The 43rd National Council on Agriculture opened in Umuahia, Abia State, on Tuesday with the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammed Bello Umar, reiterating the ministry’s commitment to the provision of incentives to increase the output and quality of agricultural commodities to meet and surpass national requirements.
The theme of the five-day meeting is ‘Consolidating the Strategies of the Agricultural Promotion Policy for Economic Diversification and Growth.’
Dr Umar said that as a core step to the provision of the obligatory incentives, the ministry had strengthened the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme by validating farmers’ biometric registration, using tablets for redemption, clustering farmers into commodity chains, classifying farm sizes for production scale determination and providing minimum input package to farmers.
The permanent secretary, who solicited the commitment and cooperation of states to agribusiness promotion, sustainable livelihood and food security, urged them to give priority to crops with export potential to earn foreign exchange and commodities that enhance food security, saying he was impressed by the commitment of the delegates to exchange of ideas on agricultural development in the country.
The task, he stated, “is to assess the effect of extant policies, fine-tune the existing strategies and shape initiatives for the attainment of food security in the country.”
Abia State Agriculture Commissioner, Chinedum Elechi, said the meeting was to formulate and implement sustainable agricultural policies and programmes that would contribute to solid economic base for the country.
Elechi said: “Over the years, the government has rolled out initiatives and programmes aimed at transforming the nation’s agriculture from subsistence to commercial status and suggested that the outcome of these programmes should be collated and analysed to further grow the economy and create more jobs.
“We are quite encouraged by the steady reversal of the situation whereby over 20 per cent of government revenue was spent on food imports. We are looking forward to the golden era when agricultural exports will account for over 80 per cent of government foreign exchange earnings.”
Source: The Guardian