Abubakar said this in a statement signed by Mr Ezeaja Ikemefuna, the Chief Information Officer of the ministry on Friday in Abuja, after the rollout/distribution of the agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers.
He said the gesture would also open up investment opportunities, create jobs for stakeholders and facilitate nutrition security.
The minister said seeds of different crops, certified seed yams, organic growth enhancers and various agricultural equipment and agrochemicals were distributed.
He said the agricultural inputs were to stimulate local production of food, achieve self-sufficiency and enhance the livelihood of farmers.
“The sector became one of the major contributors to the country’s economy, contributing about 25 per cent to our Gross Domestic Products (GDP), smallholder farmers accounting for about 70 per cent of national food production,” he pointed out.
He said that this was achieved through the implementation of strategic policies such as the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP), the Green Imperative, Agricultural Promotion Policy and the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI), among others.
“The impact of these policies and programmes manifested during the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a lot of disruptions along the Agricultural Value Chains, leading to global trade disruptions, resulting in heavy economic losses to farmer’s livelihood,” he said.
Abubakar said that 35 per cent of the inputs were targeted at women farmers in line with the objectives set in the National Gender Plan and Policies.
The policy aimed at ensuring increased opportunities for women; while 15 per cent were targeted at farmers with special needs.
The minister urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the inputs to produce food for the nation.
He called on other stakeholders to provide similar support to smallholder farmers ‘’so that together we can work and become self-sufficient in food production’’.
Gov. Mallam Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, represented by the State Commissioner of Agriculture, Alhaji Ibrahim Hossaini, appreciated the Federal Government for the flag-off exercise in the state.
El- Rufai said this would cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, promote all season farming, boost production and generate income for the farmers and the state at large.
In his remarks, the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Mr Abdullah Abubakar, commended the smallholder farmers who produced the bulk of food consumed by the nation for their perseverance, tenacity and commitment to agriculture.
One of the beneficiaries, Mrs Esther Audu, lauded the ministry’s polices in the agriculture sector geared towards assisting smallholder farmers in terms of inputs and equipment.
She also promised that they would make good use of the products to create more jobs, increase yields and economic growth.
The agricultural inputs and quality seeds distributed included; knapsack sprayer – 450, big maize thresher -30, sesame cleaning machine, 8, mechanical cashew picker – 80 and ginger slicing machine – 18.
Others were hammer mill with cyclone – 8, acha processing machine – 8, and super boron fertilizer – 400 litres, glyphosate herbicide – 400 litre, agrizyme – 400 litre, Growtech (growth enhancer) – 1,000 litres and pineapple peeler – 1440.
Also, rhizome washing machine – 4, mini – milling machine – 6, solar water pump – 15, spaghetti machine – 230, corn harvester – 15, bag closer – 30, zerofly bags – 4,800, resilate – 3200, watering can – 500, cypermethrin – 1450, and Water Pump – 80.
While the quality seeds were 25kg certified rice seed, 500 bags, 20kg certified maize seed, 300 bags, 29 kg certified sorghum seed, 300 bags, 20kg certified millet seed 300 bags, Cowpea seed 300 bags and 30,000 certified yam seed.