Michael Olugbode in Abuja
The federal government has lamented the inability of the country to produce enough millet to meet the needs of Nigeria.
It disclosed that there was a shortfall of 4.4 million metric tons in the production of the crop.
Speaking at the weekend at the Millet Food Festival 2023, organized by the Indian High in Nigeria, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar said: “Presently, millet production in Nigeria has not met the national demand and it is attributed to low productivity of the crop
“Our national demand for millet as of 2022 was 6.4 million metric tons while our national production is 2.0 million metric tons. This low productivity could be caused by the low potential of the crop varieties, application of poor agronomic practices, depleted soil, climate change, or aggregation of these factors.”
He added: “The ministry is in dire need to improve the productivity of the crop so as to enhance farmers’ income, attract more youth to millet cultivation, meet our food and industrial demand and continue the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“This event is as well to re-awaken the conscience of Nigeria millet farmers to adopt
Good Agronomic Practices (GAP) to improve the livelihood of farmers and GDP of Nigeria.”
He insisted that the concept of the Nigeria Millet Initiative was a good one since farmers would be supported to produce millet with local content as organic fertilizers thereby reducing the cost of production and increasing productivity. Also speaking at the occasion, the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Shri Balasubramanian revealed that his country was willing to collaborate with Nigeria to improve millets production and ensure that more meals from the crops get on the table of many Nigerians.
The High Commission of India in Abuja organized the event in collaboration with Niger State as a part of the Nigeria Millet Initiative.
The Etsu Nupe and Chairman of the Nigeria Millet Initiative, Dr. Yahaya Abubaker; Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, Secretary to the Government of Niger State; Abubakar Abdullahi, Director Federal Department of Agriculture, Nigeria, Several Ambassadors, Traditional Rulers, among other dignitaries participated in the event.
In his brief remarks, the High Commissioner said the United Nations General Assembly had declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets and this was proposed by India and supported by over 70 nations. He said the International Year of Millets was to provide a unique opportunity to increase global production, ensure efficient processing and consumption, promote better utilization of crop rotations, and encourage better connectivity throughout food systems to promote millets as a key component of the food basket.
He noted that: “Millets are among the first plants to be domesticated and are considered “Nutri-cereals” due to their high nutritional content. They have served as a traditional staple for hundreds of millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia for 7000 years, and are now cultivated across the world.”
On the occasion, several restaurants put up their stalls and served food (prepared with millet) to the participants to promote the millets. Several exhibitions from IITA, ICRISAT, Niger State, the Farmers Association of Nigeria, and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council also participated in the event.