Boosting food production through dry season farming (Nigeria)

The Federal Government recently approved the release of N14 billion ($85 190 000) for dry season farming. This is in addition to N9 billion ($54 765 000 released in 2013 for the same purpose. This funding underscores the importance government attaches to dry season farming.
According to available statistics, Nigeria has over 82 million hectares of arable land not fully utilised because of predominantly rain-fed farming in the country.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who recently spoke in Abuja at an official launch of the Dry Season Farm Support Programme, said government would sustain the dry season food support programme.
“Our resolve to expand this dry season programme is strong and subsequently it has to come up in October so that they will get all that they need before the commencement of a dry season. To demonstrate this, I am today announcing N14 billion to support dry season farming for 2014. As more states come on board we will continue to increase the amount of money.”
The programme had been launched in 2011 and was designed to add an additional 20 million metric tonnes of food to the country’s domestic food supply.
Director of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Alhaji Mohammed Yusuf, recently spoke in Bauchi at a stakeholders meeting of the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme. He said agricultural inputs would be provided for farmers under the dry season farming programme.Yusuf said that in Bauchi State alone, the Federal Government provided incentives to 10,000 dry season rice farmers. Each farmer received three bags of fertiliser at 50%  discount and 25kg of improved rice seeds.
Yusuf explained that more than 400,000 farmers from 19 participating states were being supported under the 2013/2014 dry season GES scheme.
“The effort produced more than one million tonnes of rice during last year’s dry season farming with just over 200,000 farmers drawn from 10 states. We intend to double or even triple the production this year,” he said.
According to Yusuf, farmers were ready, preparing land for planting and input distribution would soon commence.
“We have already carried out sensitisation campaigns across the state, identified genuine farmers, enlightened them and assessed their level of preparedness in respect of land and source of water,” explained Yusuf.
He advised farmers to utilise the inputs to expand their production capacity, adding that the problems of processing and marketing had been addressed through the value chain initiative. – NAN