The Federal Government is cultivating four food crops including rice, wheat, maize and cassava on 246,231 hectares of farmland in 30 states based on President Bola Tinubu’s 500,000-hectare farming project to combat hunger nationwide.
Officials of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security explained that though 500,000 hectares was pronounced by the President, the actual hectares that the fund for the project could cover was 246,231 hectares.
Although they were silent on the amount, they noted that while rice, maize and wheat were being cultivated in 15 states each, cassava farming was ongoing in 30 states.
On July 13, 2023, Tinubu declared a state of emergency on food security, and during his New Year address to the nation on January 1, 2024, the President promised to boost food security this year.
He reiterated during his New Year speech that the government would cultivate about 500,000 hectares of farmlands to combat hunger nationwide.
“I am well aware that for some time now the conversations and debates have centred on the rising cost of living, high inflation which is now above 28 per cent and the unacceptable high under-employment rate.
“To ensure constant food supply, security and affordability, we will step up our plan to cultivate 500,000 hectares of farmlands across the country to grow maize, rice, wheat, millet and other staple crops,” Tinubu stated.
Responding to an enquiry by Sunday PUNCH on what was being done by the FMAFS to implement the 500,000-hectare farmland project, the Director, Information, at the agric ministry, Joel Oruche, explained that what the funding could cover was 246,231 hectares for the cultivation of four crops.
He said, “The 500,000 hectares was pronounced but the actual hectares that the funds can cover for the four crops are: wheat – 41,931 hectares in 15 states; rice – 67,300 hectares in 15 states.”
Others include “maize – 115,675 hectares in 15 states; and cassava – 21, 325 hectares in 30 states. Total is 246,231 hectares and not 500,000 hectares.”
Recall that Tinubu had also stated in his New Year speech that the Federal Government had begun the implementation of the food security programme in Jigawa State
“We launched the dry season farming with 120,000 hectares of land in Jigawa State last November under our National Wheat Development Programme,” the President had stated.
Also, that states participating in the Federal Government’s 500,000-hectare farming project would farm crops that would yield them the most competitive advantage, according to information from the Presidency on Friday.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Temitope Ajayi, had told newsmen that the programme would enlist farmers in mostly Northern states where agricultural activities were predominant.
“We have 120,000 hectares for dry season farming for wheat in Jigawa. So, each state will participate. States are known for different crops. Most would be in the Northern states largely because more farming activities happen there than in the Southern states,” he stated.
In a similar development, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, announced in a statement on Saturday that the second phase of the dry/ wet season farming intervention would commence this month.
He said the ministry would implement all necessary measures in the dry/wet season farming for rice, maize and cassava to ensure transparent distribution to genuine farmers.
He also stated that the Federal Government had commenced the massive production of food crops in order to bring down the prices of food items across the country.
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