The Federal Government has launched the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP) at an event attended by various stakeholders on the 23rd of July 2020 in Funtua, Katsina State. The program which is intended to roll-out a structured plan to combat food insecurity in Nigeria, which has been partly exacerbated by the incidence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures introduced to stem its spread, targets 2 million smallholder farmers spread across 36 States of Nigeria and the FCT.
Food security is a vital agenda on a national and global scale, and COVID-19 has presented unusual shocks to our food systems that require adequate planning and response to ensure resilience and recovery. The AFJP aims to produce 10 million metric tons of food including carbohydrates, animal protein and edible oils within 12 months. The program will be operationalized through a collaboration of the Federal Government with various State Governments, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and various private sector agri service providers.
Ayodeji Balogun, the Chief Executive Officer of AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited (AFEX), who was present at the launch said that “With the realities of the pandemic testing our food systems, it is up to all players in the agricultural value chain to intervene in ways that are both sustainable and impactful. The Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan provides structured production support by giving zero-interest input financing options to farmers, enabling them to access fertilizers and seeds for their production activities, which will result in increased yields at harvest time. The program will reach 2.4 million farmers, producing over 10 million Metric Tons, and providing food for 100 million households.”
For the last five years, AFEX has worked in a consortium with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and other public and private sector partners including National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) and Sasakawa to build operational capacity to deliver improved financial inclusion, farmer training and access to finance and markets. The programs run under this framework have improved the capacity of farmers across the country enabling year on year growth in yields and productivity that can be doubled down on in executing the AFJP program. AFEX will be contributing 750,000 farmers to the AFJP program through this consortium of partners that include AGRA, NAERLS and Sasakawa.
The AFJP program will allow private players, like AFEX, with access to a large number of farmers, to collaborate and work together, sharing knowledge and technology, to drive the end goal of food security in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The private sector is also being incorporated into the program as off-takers for the produce, which will ensure that farmers can access a market at harvest time.
The coordinated efforts of the AFJP program will ensure linkages for farmers with quality inputs and support through the production cycle and access to market at harvest. This will benefit the country’s drive to be food secure, and create and protect jobs in the sector.