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FG to open 100,000 hectares of irrigable land

The Nation reports that the Federal Government is planning to open up a minimum of 100,000 hectares of irrigable land through the 12 River Basin Development Authorities by 2020 to achieve food security.

The plan is contained in Nigeria Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-2020 (ERGP), a copy of which was obtained from the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning on Tuesday in Abuja.

The ERGP projects that Nigeria will make significant progress to achieve structural economic change with a more diversified and inclusive economy in five key areas by 2020.

The key areas are stable macro-economic environment; achieve agriculture and food security; ensure energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products; and drive industrialisation focusing on Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as well as improve transportation infrastructure.

The Ministries of Water Resources and Agriculture and Rural Development are expected to take the lead in projects and programmes that will help the government to achieve the objectives of agriculture and food security.

The ministries are expected to also expand the use of dams for commercial farming and aquaculture.

According to the document, the strategy to achieve the plan will be to use irrigable lands and river basin infrastructure effectively to enable year-round agricultural production.

Specifically, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is expected to take the lead in key activities that will boost agricultural productivity by facilitating access to inputs, financing and extension services.

The document stated that the ministry would support the integrated transformation of the agriculture sector by boosting productivity of crops and other sub sectors.

Also, the Ministry of Water Resources is expected to fast-track the development and extension of irrigation projects.

According to the document, agriculture has contributed to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in Nigeria in a consistent manner.

“The sector grew by 4.88 per cent on the third quarter of 2016 and as much as 13 per cent in previous years, suggesting immense unrealised potential.

“Investment in agriculture can guarantee food security, have the potential to be a major contributor to job creation, and will save on the foreign exchange required for food imports.

“Successful harvest will also help to reduce inflation and promote economic diversification.

“ERGP focuses on the need of the people by prioritising food security as a critical national objective, and plans are already in place for national self-sufficiency in rice by 2018 and wheat by 2019/2020.’’

However, the Ministry of Women Affairs is to take a visible lead by articulating programmes and projects that are captured in number 43, page 157 of the document.

The priority in number 43 states that the ministry should take a lead in social inclusion programmes by introducing social programmes for aged and physically challenged.

Key activities should include introducing a national relief programme for the aged, as well as inaugurate a national programme for the physically challenged and other vulnerable groups.

The ministry is also expected to design infrastructure to enable access for the physically challenged.

In addition, the ministry is expected to come up with activities that will expand the capacities of the Bank of Industry to enable it support manufacturing firms through low cost.

The ministry is also expected to take the lead in activities that will enhance access to the N250 billion CBN’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) by reviewing its design and implementing enabling initiatives to encourage on-lending.

Meanwhile, according to the ERGP, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning is expected to take a lead in developing and implementing the revised Population Policy, while Ministry of Health is expected to review current status of Population Policy.

The ERGP provides for effective collaboration and coordination with the states to ensure that the Federal and State Governments work toward the same goals.

Source: The Nation

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