- As MDGs Boss, Gbenol Enjoined Beneficiaries To Ensure The Judicious Use Of The Input
Nigeria’s First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan yesterday launched the free distribution of fertilizers to Nigerian farmers, the launching of the over 230,000 fertilizers to farmers in Abuja yesterday at the official inauguration of the Agricultural Empowerment Programme for Rural Farmers in the country said that the fertilizer is part of President Jonathan’s transformation agenda aimed at making a positive impact among the rural inhabitants.
Speaking at the launch the first lady said; “Today’s event is thus designed to bring quick gains in order to rapidly improve the lives of our people who live in the rural areas. About 230,000 bags of fertiliser are being distributed across the states of the Federation.
“What you see here is only symbolic as distribution is already being done in phases using the logistics network of the Cellulant Group that removes middlemen and ensures these bags of fertilisers reach the intended beneficiaries.’’
In her opening address, the senior Special Assistant to President Jonathan on Millenuim Development Goals, MDGs, Dr. Precious Gbenol said; “Nigeria has surpassed an unprecedented 60 per cent sufficiency in rice production, a feat which the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) recently described as capable of raising world rice output to a record high in 12 months. Ultimately, this has culminated in meeting more than 50% of the nutritional needs of the country. This led the FAO to certify Nigeria as having attained the hunger target of the MDGs way ahead of the 2015 deadline.”
Speaking further she said; “This achievement is the result of several programmes implemented in order to enhance food security. The MDGsOffice, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, implements high impact interventions at the grassroots since it has been established that the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger is central to the efforts to attain all the other MDGs. This collaboration has led to the improvement of the value chains of more than ten crops, with capacity development for women and youth as well as the provision of basic farm infrastructure and agricultural inputs.”
Gbenol added further that beyond support to MDAs, the MDGs Office is implementing an innovative Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme which adopts a multi-faceted approach in its engagement with the issues of hunger and poverty reduction. This Scheme engages low-income households across the states of the Federation with the provision of the sum of N100,000 as seed grant to start up an agricultural enterprise as an exit strategy from the Scheme. The condition for the release of this sum is the completion of a 3-month training in an agricultural business. In addition, the MDGs Conditional Grants Scheme is fundingagricultural cooperatives in Local Government Areas across the country whichis structured to address targeted value chains in the different regions that demonstrate the greatest marginal return in the output of agricultural produce. The aim of this intervention is to create capacity at the local government level to maximize the productive capacity of local cooperatives, in order to augment the interventions being made by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
According to Gbenol; “By partnering with Her Excellency the First Lady’s Women for Change and Development Initiative and Cellulant Group Limited, we are taking the efforts to accelerate the attainment of the MDGs forward in the little time remaining. Cellulant Group Limited brings their experience and extensive logistic expertise in reducing leakages and ensuring crucial farm inputs get to farmers in a timely manner. This exercise will see the delivery of more than 230,000 bags of fertilizers directly to farmers where they are needed most. This intervention is expected to improve farm yields, enhance food security and change the economic landscape of our rural communities.”
Gbenol also enjoined all beneficiaries of the intervention to ensure the judicious use of the,input, as she added; “It is in so doing that there will be an improvement in the way we live.”