By Chinyere Anyanwu [email protected]
The inability of Nigeria to produce enough millets to meet the needs of the country has become a source of concern to the Federal Government as it has disclosed that there is a shortfall of 4.4 million metric tonnes in the production of the crop.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, who made this known at the weekend during the Millet Food Festival 2023, organised by the Indian High Commisson in Nigeria, 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 at 2022 was 6.4 million metric tonnes, while our national production is 2.0 million metric tonnes. This low productivity could be caused by low potential of the crop varieties, application of poor agronomic practices, depleted soil, climate change or aggregation of these factors.
“The ministry is in dire need to improve the productivity of the crop so as to enhance farmers’ income, attract more youths to millet cultivation, meet our food and industrial demand and contribute to 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 is a good one since farmers would be supported to produce millet with local content as organic fertilisers thereby reducing the cost of production and increasing productivity.
Speaking at the occasion, the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Shri Balasubramanian, revealed that his country is willing to partner with Nigeria to improve millet production and ensure that more meals from the crops get on the table of many Nigerians.
The High Commission of India in Abuja organised the event in collaboration with Niger State as a part of Nigeria Millet Initiative.
In his brief remarks, the High Commissioner said the United Nations General Assembly 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 is to provide a unique oppourtunity to increase global production, ensure efficient processing and consumption, promote a better utilisation of crop rotations and encourage better connectivity throughout food systems to promote millets as a key component of the food basket.
He said: “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.”
At the occasion, several restaurants put up their stalls and served food (prepared with millets) to the participants to promote the millets. Several exhibitions from IITA, ICRISAT, Niger State, Farmers Association of Nigeria (FAN) and Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) also participated in the event.
Among dignitaries who graced the occasion include the Etsu Nupe and Chairman of the Nigeria Millet Initiative, Dr. Yahaya Abubakar; Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, Secretary to the Government of Niger State; Abubakar Abdullahi, Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Nigeria; several ambassadors, traditional rulers.