Food Security: Agric Ministers, Kyari, Abdullahi, Meet Senate Committee (Photos)

• Senator Kyari Calls For Amendment To Agric Agencies’ Acts For Policy Alignment

The Honourable Ministers of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, CON, and his colleague, the Honorable Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, CON, honored an invite to participate in an interactive session held at the National Assembly Complex by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Production Services, and Rural Development.

In the session chaired by the Senate Committee Chairman, Senator Saliu Mustapha, he said harped on recognizing that the NASS committee and the Federal Ministry are all stakeholders in the agricultural sector, and that the nation relies on all stakeholders to provide the necessary support for enhancing agricultural production, the largest employer of labor in our nation.

“Agriculture stands as the cornerstone of our economy, maintaining its significance as the driving force behind the national economy.”

“Ensuring food security for our citizens is imperative for Nigeria’s survival, with a majority residing in rural areas and predominantly engaged in farming for their livelihoods. As active participants in this crucial sector, we must not falter in meeting their expectations. The committee members acknowledge the weighty responsibility on our shoulders and are dedicated to ensuring the full implementation of policies and legislation. This interactive meeting is pivotal to assess our current position, determine our standing, and plan for the future. With your cooperation, and by the grace of the Almighty, we aim to act in the best interest of our nation and the livelihoods depending on this sector. Distinguished Senators, honorable ministers, heads of agencies, and parastatals, I extend a warm welcome and anticipate a harmonious working relationship. The interactive session is hereby called to order, with the minister leading the proceedings.”

Taking his turn to speak at the event, the Honourable Minister of Agric and Food Security, Sen. Abubakar Kyari, CON, opened the floor, “Honourable members, I confidently distinguish my colleagues, including my esteemed brother, the Honorable Minister of State, who was also a member of the 8th and 9th Senate. I extend our gratitude for the invitation from Mr. Chairman and the warm reception within these walls. Today, we gather to discuss the critical issue of agriculture, a topic that warrants more time than a day or two due to the multitude of challenges it faces.”

“Notably, on July 13th, 2023, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu declared a food security emergency, leading to the renaming of the ministry from Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security. Our nation is currently grappling with threats to food security, primarily stemming from conflicts and climate change.”

“Agriculture in Nigeria confronts two major challenges: conflict and climate change. The safety of our farmers, predominantly residing in rural areas as smallholders, is jeopardized by insurgency and kidnapping. Moreover, climate change introduces unpredictable weather patterns, such as heavy rainfall causing flooding or disrupting traditional planting practices. Another pressing issue is the lack of inclusion, with smallholder farmers struggling to access essential resources like inputs, finance, and capital. Fortunately, institutions like the Bank of Agriculture and the National Agriculture Development Fund, established through recent legislation, aim to address these inclusion gaps.”

“President Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s 8-point agenda outlines crucial focus areas, including food security, job creation, economic growth, inclusion of women and youth, poverty eradication, and access to capital. To tackle immediate challenges, our programs for dry season farming, supported by the African Development Bank, aim to cultivate significant hectares of wheat, maize, rice, and cassava. This initiative not only addresses food insecurity but also promotes self-sufficiency. Mechanization becomes a pivotal aspect, urging us to embrace technology and innovation to maximize yield in our shrinking arable land.”

“As we navigate these challenges, the National Assembly’s support, exemplified by the supplementary budget, plays a vital role in realizing our objectives.”

The Senate Committee Chairman, Senator Salihu Mustapha, queries the relationship between the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and agencies like NIRSAL and NALDA, emphasizing the need for collaboration to enhance food security. He points out that these newly created agencies, though external to the Ministry, play a significant role that intertwines with its functions.

In response, the Honourable Minister of Agriculture. Senator Abubakar Kyari, revealed a lack of cooperation between NIRSAL, the CBN, and the then Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. He highlighted the plans for a meeting between the Managing Director of NIRSAL and himself, expressing optimism about fostering mutual cooperation. Additionally, the Executive Secretary of NALDA’s role in achieving food security is acknowledged, but concerns were raised about the agency’s efficiency in land preparation, vital for cultivating the substantial untapped arable land.

Solidifying Senator Kyari’s position, his colleague, the Honourable Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, CON, emphasized the collective interest in ensuring alignment between NALDA’s programs and the Ministry’s objectives. He pointed out that despite NALDA reporting to the Presidency, it was ceded to the Ministry for supervision. Senator Abdullahi urges the committee to review the NALDA act promptly, given the declared food security emergency, to align the agency’s programs with the Ministry’s goals and enhance overall efficiency in the agricultural sector.

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