Contrary to many Nigerians’ beliefs on the adverse effects of insecurity and COVID-19 on the country’s food baskets, the Federal Government has said that agricultural sector contributed 3.3 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in one year, being one of the best sectors after the services and financial sectors of the economy.
Similarly, government also revealed that prices of food commodities had started coming down gradually in the country, only that cost of transportation, inputs and hoarding were constituting stumbling blocks for Nigerians to start seeing the positive multiplier effects. In addition, President Mu hammadu Buhari’s regime also cleared the air that issues of insurgency and banditry only had minimal impacts on certain areas of key agriculture states and not the overall agriculture population of the country in terms of food production.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Resources, Alhaji Mohammad Sambo Nanono, made these known on a national television programme monitored live by this newspaper. In particular, the agric minister emphasised that the agric sector wasn’t doing badly in reality economically, but that insecurity and COVID-19 crises dominated the straits in Muthe sector.
Nanono said: “I think that what people should understand at this period of instability in the country in terms of COVID- 19, insurgency, somehow, somewhere, is the fact that as a government, these issues surprises us also, but we have to deal with it as it comes because we should not be intimidated, probably not to this level at which we are talking about.
“Last year, there was growth in agriculture in spite of all these challenges we are talking about, agriculture grew by 3.3 per cent. Yes, it grew in terms of real growth.
It contributed 3.3 per cent growth to the GDP, more than any other sector in the country, except the financial sector.
“That is one. Also, in spite of the COVID-19, which we faced in terms of the challenges of transporting goods from one place to another, both goods for direct consumption and inputs, we still managed to overcome and moved agriculture forward in Nigeria.
“I think one thing that is interesting, which people forget is that this country is big. Definitely, the insurgency and banditry have some impacts in certain areas of agricultural sector, but when you look at it globally, you will realise that what is the percentage of all this in the overall agriculture population?,
Certainly, it is minimal, not in the way we are talking about it here in Nigeria.
“I am not saying that there are no problems in our agric sector, there is, but not probably the the way we are pronouncing the problems, like not to allow the Nigerian farmers to go to farms, that should be understood very well.”
While speaking on the spike in price of food stuffs in the country, the agric minister said: “Also people will start talking that okay, the food prices have gone up, all this kind of things doesn’t help us. Yes, I agreed that food prices have gone up.
“But let me tell you this, what people don’t understand is that food prices have started coming down in the country, but the reason why Nigerians are yet to feel the impacts is one, transportation cost has gone up and this affects food for direct consumption and inputs in agriculture