President Goodluck Jonathan has approved the release of N26 billion for the 2015 dry season farming in the country.
The President announced this in Abuja on Friday at the AGRIFEST 2015, organised to mark the four years of aggressive agricultural reforms and implementation of the Agric. Transformation Agenda.
He said the approval was to appreciate the contribution of rural farmers to massive food production in the country and to encourage the farmers to crop thrice a year to boost food production and eliminate hunger and poverty.
“To further boost your efforts to produce more food for our nation, I am pleased to announce to you here today the release of another N26 billion toward the 2015 dry season farming programme.”
“I am here today as your President. With your support I hope to be here next year as your President and then I will do even more for you, for our farmers and for our dear country.’’
The President said the nation was proud of Nigerian farmers as thousands of jobs were being created for the youth through agriculture, which called for celebration.
He said the target of the administration was to convert the farmers into net exporters of food.
He said it was the reason government was improving irrigation programmes nationwide, adding, “farmers are now producing more“.
“Agriculture is now the lifeline for Nigeria As crude oil revenues decline, we must create new wealth from the richness of our soil, the vastness of our rivers and the abundance of our cheap labour.”
“We will produce more and we must industrialise the agricultural sector. That is our total commitment,” he said.
The President said the success of the dry season farming launched in 2012 was enormous and had changed the fortunes of farmers.
“Not only is food produced, we are now processing. Food production is rising rapidly and thousands of jobs are being created for our young people,” he said.
The President applauded the financial sector for its contribution to agriculture transformation through adequate funding of stakeholders.
He also said that marine and palm sectors were being encouraged and that the target was to make Nigeria self-sufficient in palm oil production by 2016.
He said, “Nigeria’s palm oil story is changing rapidly; we are providing nine million sprouted nuts for farmers.
“Over N45 million private sector investments is ongoing in new palm oil plantation. We expect 70,000 hectares of palm plantation to ensure self-sufficiency.”
The President said fish farming was being encouraged and directed the agriculture ministry to provide annual financial support for the Argungu Fishing Festival.
He said the government intended to develop 750,000 young farmers soon and promote agriculture at the primary and secondary school levels.