Opinion: Kick-starting the Tinubu administration’s food security agenda – By TEMITOPE AJAYI
During the electioneering, President Bola Tinubu promised Nigerians to increase agricultural production to ensure sufficient food in the country and guarantee food security.
One of the priority agenda for achieving food sufficiency and affordability is to cultivate 500,000 hectares of farmland across the country to produce maize, rice, wheat, and other crops.
To demonstrate the administration’s seriousness about local production of agricultural produce, President Tinubu declared a state of emergency on food security in July.
Acting on the mandate to cultivate 500,000 hectares of land and promote year-round farming, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has imported 6,750 metric tonnes of hybrid wheat seeds for dry season farming.
At the Lagos Port last weekned, where he inspected the hybrid wheat seeds, Minister of Agriculture, Abubakar Kyari, outlined the procedures and processes for the dry season wheat farming.
He said: “If you all recall the statement of food emergency declared by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, sometime in July after he took office, he kickstarted this process of the wheat dry season farming with the importation of 6,750 metric tonnes of wheat seeds.”
The Minister also underscored the importance of government collaboration with Flour Milling Association of Nigeria (FMAN) in the drive to make Nigeria a net producer of wheat.
On the partnership with FMAN, the Minister said, “this wouldn’t have been possible without the support from FMAN. They facilitated the whole process from the import and the shipping and other logistics even up to our designated centers. They’ve been fantastic and everything is going on smoothly according to the plan. We are supposed to kickstart the dry season farming sometimes in the middle of November which is in 10 days’ time . So, we are happy that this is right on time.”
Already 70,000 hectares of farmlands are being prepared for the dry season wheat farming. The Minister revealed that the government is raising the target to 123,000 hectares. The expectation, according to Minister Kyari, is that the farmers will get to double their yield in terms of the output from this particular effort because the seeds are high yielding varieties.
In the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Tinubu, he said “use the right seeds and you will feed the whole nation. That’s what we are here to actualize,” the Minister emphasised.
Chairman of Flour Mills Plc who is also the chairman of FMAN, Mr. John Coumantaros, noted that the provision of hybrid wheat seeds is a critical initiative towards achieving food security for the nation.
“The population is around 210 Million and still growing so it’s critically imperative just as the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has stated that we must create food security within the country. The primary basis for this is to double and triple the yields we are currently getting. First, it starts with seedling because that gives you a good hybrid of varieties and this continues to the extension farmers with the right processes.”
The received wisdom is that once food is out of the existential challenges a man faces, the rest are much easier to deal with. President Tinubu’s commitment is that no Nigerian should go to bed hungry. With the new vigour to ramp up agricultural production in the country, better days are coming.
-Ajayi is Senior Special Assistant to the President in Media & Publicity