Dr. Andrew Kwasari, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Agriculture

Post-COVID: Federal Government to distribute palliatives to 2.4m households

*We capitalise on huge population to grow food in 2020 wet and dry season farming ─ Dr. Andrew Kwasari, SSA to President Buhari on Agriculture

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

In order to ensure that there is food security for considerable sections of the population, the Federal Government of Nigeria has assured that at least 2.4 million families will benefit from its post-COVID-19 stimulus package.

Dr. Andrew Kwasari, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President Muhammadu Buhari on Agriculture, stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria Sunday, August 16, in Abuja, FCT.

The presidential aide spoke in connection with the number of projects the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Committee (NESC) has handled to stabilise the country’s economy against the devastating effects of COVID-19.

According to Kwasari, the stimulus package would be provided through the Agric for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP), under the Agricultural Sector of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), headed by the SSA.

As enumeration is progress, the Senior Special Assistant stated that among millions of households to benefit from the Agric for Food and Job Project are small-scale farmers with farmlands ranging from one to five hectares across the 36 states and FCT.

Report indicated that President Muhammadu Buhari established AFJP March 2020, and it is being chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo with members from key sectors of the economy in order to protect the country from shocks resulting from Coronavirus pandemic on the economy.

Dr. Kwasari said: “The Economic Sustainability Committee needed to be very strategic in utilising the minimal resources overall, not only for the agriculture sector.

“So, for the Agric Sector, we decided that we would use this strategy to utilise available cash to work with financial institutions, led by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“To see how we can get stimulus packages to about a minimum of 2.4 million households or to fund 2.4 million hectares of land that will be cultivated during this 2020 wet and dry season farming.”

It was in a bid to answer the question, “What must Nigeria do to ensure food sufficiency in the wake of COVID-19?” that the agricultural sub-sector of NESC decided to clearly define and understand the global scenario of the pandemic.

“The Nigerian economy was already disrupted; we had lost a large share of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) income which comes from oil.

“So, with this reduced GDP, even if there is stable food systems supply, Nigeria may not be able to afford importation of food in order to feed over 200 million people.

“Imagine then, where we have both global food system disruption in productivity and output and the loss of national income from oil revenue losses.”

He further said that the country having been in a more dangerous situation opted for large-scale food production to cushion the effects of COVID-19, due to dwindling resources.

The SSA to President added: “Nigeria has a plus in terms of a large population that can be channelled into food production; so we capitalised on it to grow food during this 2020 wet season and dry season farming,” he said.

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