NIGERIA – Nigeria may be well on its way to achieving the much anticipated food sufficiency as the nation’s food import bill reduced from N1 trillion in 2011 to N648 billion in 2012, even as the Federal Government projects more cuts in the run-up to 2015.
According to a press release from the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Research, Documentation and Strategy, over 8 million metric tons of food were added to domestic supply in 2012 (70% above projection), while 2.2 million tons of cassava chips were exported.
“The said number of cassava chips exceeded the target by over 100 percent while the 40 percent substitution of cassava for wheat has been achieved through research and collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Federal Institute for Industrial Research,” disclosed Oronto Douglas, special adviser to the President on Research, Documentation and Strategy.
According to Douglas, four decades of fertiliser and food distribution ended with direct access by farmers, thereby saving the government N25 billion in year 2012 alone.
“The first ever database of farmers has been developed, with 6 million farmers registered and now being updated annually.
This makes Nigeria the first African country to develop e-Wallet, which has eliminated sharp practices by middlemen and resulted in the direct sale of over N15 billion worth of fertilisers and N1.5 billion of seeds to farmers,” he said.
Also in the report, tagged ‘Sure and Steady Transformation,’ the first series of which was published in 2012, and covers government’s achievements in agriculture, aviation, health, petroleum and works, it was disclosed that agriculture had become more profitable such that over 250,000 farmers and youths in Northern states were now profitably engaged in farming.
“Dry season production through irrigation was kick-started in 10 Northern states, including Kebbi, Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Gombe, Niger, Kogi and Bauchi.
This resulted in an output of 1.07 million metric tons; while combined production of dry season and main season paddy is now 1.76 million metric tons – unprecedented in Nigeria’s history.
It becomes clear that ‘Sure and Steady Transformation’ is demonstrated in word and action and not just a list of policies and programmes of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration,” he noted.