NEWS: Nigeria Gains N777bn From agric interventions

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The Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina, said Nigeria gained N777 billion as income from various intervention programmes in the agricultural sector in 2014.Adesina made this known on Thursday in Abuja while briefing members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture on the performance of the ministry’s budget in 2014.He said the money went to the rural economy of the nation as many local farmers benefitted from the interventions and were currently performing well in their farms.The minister, who also defended the ministry’s 2015 budget before the committee, announced that a crop insurance for farmers in the country.He said that no fewer than five million farmers would benefit from the programme, explaining that it was intended to build the confidence of farmers and encourage more people to farm.”The main economic value of all the interventions that were done on rice, maize, sorghum, wheat, soy beans, cassava and others added N777 billion worth of income back into our rural economy.”This has helped to create significant amount of wealth for our farmers in the country.”As you know, we added about 21 million metric tonnes of food to the domestic food supply and that goes all over from rice to maize, cassava, sorghum, and to soy beans.”All of that has added an average of N777 billion of revenue back into the economy; that is money going back into the hands of farmers and communities,” he said.”If you go into many parts of Nigeria today, particularly if you go into the north, and particularly for rice farmers, for example, they will tell you that those that actually pay first to buy tickets to go to Mecca are rice farmers.”That tells you how much things have changed for them; we have been able to create significant amount of wealth across the country from agriculture,” he added.Adesina disclosed that the agriculture sector witnessed a revolution in maize in 2014 with 14.9 million metric tonnes production from nine million metric tonnes recorded in 2009.He said that wheat industry witnessed a revolution with new varieties that yielded an average of six tonnes per hectare of land with 240,000 metric tonnes produced in 2014 “on a 75,000-hectare”.He said that the ministry had also liberalized the insurance market and opened it up for private sector companies to invest in insuring farmers, adding that the Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC) had been completely revamped.”NAIC is now offering a new product which is called ‘Planting with Peace’ so that our farmers will have access to crop insurance.”We are hoping to reach about five million farmers by this year and then we can scale it up; it is a very important issue for us,” he said.Adesina said the milestone recorded in the sector was responsible for reducing the food import bill from N3.3 trillion in 2011 to N634 billion in 2014.This, he said, was responsible for the stable prices of food in the country in spite of the devaluation of the Naira and the fall in oil prices.He said that the ministry utilized 100 per cent of the money released to it in 2014 and planned to make judicious use of its proposed N12.82 billion allocation for 2015.In his remark, the Chairman of the committee, Sen. Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP-Taraba South), said that the committee was satisfied with the budget implementation of the ministry.He, however, deplored the level of funding from the Ministry of Finance to the ministry and called for more funding to it.culled from PM