The Federal Government has reaffirmed its commitment towards ensuring that Smallholder farmers across the country have access to quality seeds, stating that it is a foundation for attaining food and nutrition security and industrialization of the agricultural sector.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono disclosed this during the flag-off /roll-out ceremony of the distribution of free agricultural inputs to farmers at Hero Square, New Owerri, Owerri, Imo State over the weekend having performed similar task earlier in the South-South. Alhaji Sabo Nanono explained that ‘’through this effort and other complementary interventions by different stakeholders, the government hopes to increase quality seeds, the resilience of farmers, accessibility and the national food systems in general’’.

The Minister noted that ‘’the Ministry is supporting breeder and foundation seeds production and linking up with the private seed companies to make certified seeds available to farmers’’.
Alhaji Nanono also stressed that ‘’ this coupled with our efforts to improve rural infrastructure and other value-chains supports would invariably contribute to the attainment of Mr. President’s desire to ensure easy access to quality food and nutrition by Nigerians.

The minister informed that ‘’ the distribution of agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers which include different categories of seeds, seedlings of cocoa, sprouted nuts of oil palm, vines of orange flesh, sweet potatoes, one node vine cuttings of yam and its seeds and groundnut seeds as part of the Ministry’s interventions to reduce the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural production in Nigeria and prevent food scarcity in 2021.

He further said that ‘’ the Ministry is distributing 20,000 cocoa seedlings over 5,000 oil palm sprouted nuts and 1,500 kg cashew seeds to farmers in Imo state. In addition, yam farmers through their national association and other cooperative groups will be supported with 20,000 nos one node vine cuttings and 10,000 nos foundation seeds of yam as well as 200 litres of pathway organic growth enhancer. Potatoes farmers will benefit from 1,500 bundles of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes that were distributed at the occasion, and 200 litres of pathway organic solution for the yam farmers’’.

Nanono said the Ministry “is also supporting groundnut farmers through the Groundnut Producers, Processors and Marketers Association (GPPMAN) with improved 3 mt groundnut seeds. These seeds, seedlings, nuts, vines and other inputs are being given to farmers free’’.

He disclosed that in the roll out distribution exercise, “at least 35% of the agricultural inputs are targeted at women farmers in line with the targets set in our National Gender Plan and Policies aimed at ensuring increased opportunities for women. This has been communicated to the Farmer Associations accordingly’’.

The Minister informed that ‘’the next major roll-out of support to farmers will take place in Borno State, where improved wheat, groundnut and rice seeds, as well as gum Arabic seedlings, will be distributed to farmers nationwide along with their inputs’’.In his remark, the Executive of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma lauded the Agricultural policies and visionary leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari’s in the sector geared towards job creation, food sufficiency and economic growth. He said, ” Imo State will buy into the Agriculture policy because the state has Agricultural potentials which will create jobs for its teeming youth population and boost the Internally Generated Revenue of the state and Nigeria in general “.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Imo State Dr. Lambert Orisakwe noted that “Imo State is predominantly an agrarian society where every family is engaged in one form of agricultural practice or the other”. He said the coming of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to distribute agro palliative to farmers in the state is a welcome development. This August and memorable occasion is very refreshing and calls for a celebration “.
In her Goodwill message the Commissioner of Livestock Development, Imo state , Hon. Obiageri Ajoku called for a robust synergy relationship with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development towards achieving food and nutrition in Nigeria.

While giving a vote of thanks, Director, Federal Department of Agriculture in the Ministry, Mrs. Karima Babangida thanked the governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma for gracing the occasion and flagging off the seed distribution exercise of oil palm, cashew, rice, yam, potatoes, groundnut, and cocoa to farmers; and the organic growth enhancer for higher yield of the crops especially yam and orange flesh potatoes.