Nigeria will ban milk importation into the country in the next two years, the minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, has said.
The minister disclosed this during a press briefing to commemorate this year's World Food Day celebration, on Tuesday.
"We have a livestock industry with an asset of nearly N33 trillion, we are planning in this Ministry watch my word, in the next 2 years, we will ban importation milk in this country because we have 25 million cows in this country, we consume 5 million litres per day," he said.
Mr Nanono said efforts were being made by the government to eradicate hunger and poverty through a robust food production system.
He noted that to boost food production, Nigeria curbed imports which consequently increased rice production, thereby placing the country as the largest producer of rice in Africa.
"As a nation, we consider the relevance of eradicating poverty and hunger and transforming our food production systems to ensure sustainable food security," he said.
Efforts so far
Mr Nanono said that significant progress has been made to improve agricultural productivity since the inception of the present administration.
"Efforts in this direction are starting to show results as Nigeria is now Africa's largest producer of rice. The country is also the largest producer of cassava in the world," the minister added
He said a range of policies and initiatives to strengthen the rice and cassava value chains have been put in place.
"The economic potentials of both livestock and fisheries are also being harnessed and respective value chains selected and targeted for development", he noted.
In an attempt to diversify the economy, the Agric Minister said the federal government had continued with its renewed focus on the agricultural sector.
He explained that the government has deepened the culture with the Anchor Borrowers' Programme (ABP) initiative and ban on the importation of some agro-commodities.
He said the Ministry has raised her national food reserve stock to 109,657 MT, a figure he said that is expected to further increase to about 219,900 MT by the end of 2020.
Agriculture for Food and Job Plan
Mr Nanono said that the Agriculture for Food and Job Plan (AFJP) launched in July is a component of President Buhari's Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP).
He explained that the project is targeted at mitigating the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on farmers.
"The goal of the plan is to lead to the creation of about five to ten million jobs in the agricultural sector, to cultivate more land in each state, provide zero-interest loans to farmers, amongst others," he said.
"The first phase of the scheme has produced over 1.1 million beneficiaries across all states and the FCT," he added.
He said out of the 5 million planned beneficiaries for AFJP, the ministry under his watch has empowered 1,138,000 farmer-beneficiaries across the 36 states and the FCT under the first phase of implementation.
He noted that since the beginning of the 2020 farming season, the ministry has distributed inputs in states across the country to boost food production.
"Nigeria last year recorded a boost in the production of her major staple crops. According to the data from the Ministry, maize and rice production rose from 12.8 and 12.3 to 13.94 and 14.28 million metric tonnes (MMT) respectively last year," he said.
In a similar manner, the minister said Nigeria's cassava production also increased from 58.47 MMT in 2018 to 73.91 and even projected to rise to 93.6 by 2023.
"Growth has also been recorded for groundnut, tomatoes, and sorghum production," he said.
Mr Nanono said cattle beef, milk and fish production also rose by 166, 146 and 11 per cents respectively between 2018 and 2019.
He said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Bureau of Statistics report indicated that Nigeria's National Agricultural Import Bill also reduced from 1.2 to 1.1 billion Naira.