By Raymond Benson (SKMCO Abia State.)
The Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises, Niger Delta, (LIFE-ND), within its time creation, participated in 2021 National Agricultural Show and World Food Day celebration held in Nassarawa State.
The 5‐day event which began from October 11‐ 15, 2021, is an annual event marked in recognition of the importance of small‐holder farmers, with its theme as: “Celebrating the Resilience and Roles of Small‐Holder Farmers in Sustaining Food Systems in Nigeria”.
Addressing the participants, President Muhammadu Buhari who was represented by the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Muhammed Abubakar, promised zero‐interest loan of N600 billion to 2.4 million farmers in Nigeria, through Agro‐ Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS).
Presenting his address, the Minister said,
“The Federal Government through Agro‐Processing Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS), has set aside N600 billion as loan support to farmers across the country. No fewer than 2.4 million farmers are expected to benefit from the loan which has zero interest.”
Also speaking to participants, the the former governor of the state and Chairman Board of Trustees, National Agricultural Foundation of Nigeria (NAFN), Senator, Dr. Abdullahi Adamu reiterated the commitment of President Buhari’s government to agriculture by “initiating a good number of policies and programmes “, primarily targeted to increase agricultural production and to assist small scale farmers to literally improve their lot, noting that some of the policies are short, medium and long term‐ based. He however, bemoaned the restrictions posed by COVID 19 and the alarming insecurity in the country.
Affirming the President’s commitment to agriculture, he said,
” Our President is a farmer. He breeds cattle. He wears the shoes and knows where and why it pinches and by extension, the rest of the farmers”.
He mentioned three bills currently signed into law: Strategic Frame Food Reserve Agency, Nigeria Inspection of Research Council and Niger Delta Development Funds which are directed towards increased productivity in the nation.
Speaking from the sideline of the event, the National Project Coordinator, Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises, Niger Delta, (LIFE-ND), Engr. Sanni Abiodun qualified the debut participation of LIFE-ND in the Agricultural Show as “wonderful”, identifying tremendous patronage of visitors at LIFE-ND stand as evidence of high standards of commodities showcased in the event.
Reacting to security challenges, he advised the Federal government to put adequate strategy and mechanism in place to combat the menace, adding that,
” There’s need to assure the youths who are beneficiaries, that the project is for real and get them to be fully involved in agriculture and to see it as a business, as a way to go and to ensure that there’s job creation and sustainable food security within the Niger Delta region and Nigeria in general”, he concluded.
Also reacting to the event, Agribusiness Promotion Coordinator, Mrs. Anthonia Esenwa saw the participation as a landmark, interactive and a publicity of “letting the world to know what LIFE-ND is all about in terms of agrobusiness we promote.”
The LIFE-ND Rural Institution Youth and Gender Coordinator, Dr. Clement Uwem described the participation as a “learning route” of experience, to seek collaborations,”adapt and adopt” the innovative visions of donor agencies, and private sector organisations in agribusinesses that would fit into the mould of Niger Delta for the improvement of the region’s economy, adding that the participation was “excellent” while advising on the increase and sustenance of the tempo to achieve IFAD and Federal government required objectives in the region.
Among the commodities from the Niger Delta region exhibited were, Rice, cassava, oil palm, poultry products, fish, cocoa, plantain including their value chains.