By Philomina Attah and Kudirat Ogunyemi
Abuja – The Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh on Wednesday reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to the revitalisation of the agricultural sector of the economy.
Ogbeh disclosed this at the 4th National Stakeholders Forum on “Making Agricultural Research Work for End Users organised by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Agricultural Policy Research Network (APRNet) in Abuja.’’
The minister, who was represented by Mr Abdulazeez Muyiwa, a Director at the ministry, said the Federal Government was also making agricultural research more effective in tackling the issue of food security in the country.
According to him, government is currently pursuing the restructuring of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) in order to make it function as a research extension liaison and development centre.
He said the ministry would work closely with private investors to ensure national self-sufficiency in staple foods such as rice, wheat, maize, fish and dairy milk.
Ogbeh said the government was also committed to developing end to end value chain solutions.
“As part of import substitution drive, we have established the Nigeria Yam Export Programme geared towards promoting export of Nigerian yam to Europe, America and other parts of the world.
“Interestingly, the Chinese Government has demanded dry yam from Nigeria to meet its industrial and domestic needs,” he said.
Similarly, Dr Anthony Onoja, APRNet President, said that the poor involvement of stakeholders in agricultural development processes was a threat to the actualisation of food security in the country.
“That is why APRNet has brought together stakeholders to brainstorm on challenges facing the agricultural sector and food security in the country.
“The focus of our discussion will be on the status of food sufficiency in the country; the challenges facing Nigerian agricultural development and food security and the role of stakeholders in addressing these challenges for the interest of the end users,” he said.
Onoja added that efforts in the past to address these issues have not been properly coordinated, adding that the policy makers, the private sector and farmers have been working separately.
The Country Head of IFPRI, Dr George Mavrotas, said that the institute and the Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project have been partnering with APRNet in finding solutions to agriculture problems.
He said that the partnership would move to a new level since “we strongly believe that issues related to capacity strengthening are in the heart of IFPRI and APRNet’s agenda.” (NAN)