…inaugurates National Commodity Alliance Forum
By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA- THE Federal Government has disclosed that most of the contentious issues surrounding acceptance of grazing reserves have been resolved with the bid to boost food security in the country.
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, gave the hint in his keynote address at the inauguration of the National Commodity Alliance Forum, CAF, in Abuja under the International Fund for Agricultural Development Fund sponsored Value Chain Development Programme, VCDP, in states in the country, which are Ebonyi, Ogun, Benue, Anambra, Taraba, and Niger.
According to him most states have accepted ranching as the way forward for the management of livestock not just to prevent conflicts but also to improve farmers’s productivity.
He was represented by his Senior Technical Adviser on Agribusiness, Eneyi Ambakederemo, where he also said the government has set up a National Livestock Transformation Plan to permanently address clashes over access to grazing land, water and other related natural resources.
He further stated that government currently is working assiduously to make available flood-resistant seeds to mitigate the effects on crops in the country.
He said: “This year has been one of the most difficult times for Nigerian farmers across the country as a result of renewed hostilities between farmers and pastoralists leading to loss of lives and property and stagnation of farming activities.
“To resolve this issue the Federal Government through the Ministry has developed a National Livestock Transformation Plan to permanently address clashes over access to grazing land, water and other related natural resources.
“I am also glad that the contentious issue of Grazing Reserves has been largely resolved as most States have now accepted ranching as the way forward for the management of livestock not just to prevent conflicts but also to improve farmer’s productivity, derive maximum economic benefits and modernize livestock management.
“We have undertaken adequate sensitization of communities to understand that national food security is tied to the general security in the country because no one produces in an atmosphere of clashes and conflicts.”
Meanwhile, the Minister said the Value Chain Development Programme, VCDP, has created an innovative and inclusive private sector engagement strategy called the “Commodity Alliance Forum” (CAF) to enable smallholder farmers market their produce and make profit sustainably.
“I am pleased to note that through the CAF arrangement VCDP rice farmers now realise an average of 4.5mt/h and contribute about 60,000mt of rice and 200,000MT of cassava to the national food basket, representing about N12 billion contribution to the country’s GDP”, he added.
Also speaking was the Country Representative, International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, Nadine Gbossa, who was represented by the Programme Offifer, IFAD, Mariatu Kamara, whose organisation is the sponsor of VCDP said the private sector has been a major driver of the value chain development programme.
“I wish to recognize and appreciate the role of the private sector operators in the development Nigeria agriculture. Without you, our achievement will be less. IFAD believes very much in the 4Ps (Public-Private-Producer-Partnership) approach and we do have lots of success stories as testament to that.
“Here in Nigeria, the recent VCDP MTR indicated that through CAF, VCDP enabled smallholder farmers produce 25, 000 metric tonnes of produce and realize an estimated amount of $9 million from Benue State alone. This huge injection in the domestic economy and is in alignment with the objectives of the VCDP.
“IFAD will like at this point to encourage the government of Nigeria and other development partners to buy into this model in order to provide tailor made solution on credit, input and market access to the smallholder farmers.
“We will also like to encourage the CAF to continue to strengthen the alliance so that other farmers in other parts of Nigeria will also replicate this. Let us use this forum to learn, network and build partnerships to support our various businesses.
“On the part of IFAD, we will continue to provide the relevant support to the government and people o f Nigeria in a bid to support communities take over their development agenda”, Gbossa said.