The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, says the Federal Government is working with the Nigeria Customs Service and other agencies to stop the smuggling of food out of Nigeria. The Guardian reports.

Abubakar made this known during a working visit to the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Ibadan in Oyo State.

According to him, the country has food security, hence, the need to curtail the smuggling of food out of the country.

“One of the things we are doing is dry season farming, which is beginning next month, and we will intensify that.

“We also make sure that all the agencies that we are working with, the customs, for example, do not allow smuggling of food out of this country.

“This is because what we don’t want to have a food shortage. We have no shortage of food right now. I am telling you categorically,’’ Abubakar said.

He added that so much had been done by President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in rejigging the agricultural sector, saying that now, it is contributing significantly to Nigeria’s GDP.

Expressing delight in the activities of NIHORT on its mandate, Abubakar said: “Agriculture today is all about research, innovation and science.

“In agriculture, as a whole, we are talking about practising smart agriculture, technology-based digital agriculture.

“All research institutes have so much to offer, especially NIHORT. I am impressed with the array of products that I am seeing that this institute is producing.

“Just now, I saw an orange tree that will produce three different oranges on one tree, this is amazing, incredible. I am happy that I come here.”

He assured Nigerians that Federal Government would continue to increase the capacity of the research institutes.

“We just got a waiver to employ more researchers, developers and people of science origin, that would help to boost research and development,” the minister said.

Earlier, Dr Muhammed Attanda, the Director and Chief Executive Officer, NIHORT, appreciated the minister for his unprecedented support.

Attanda said that the minister’s kind considerations had enabled the institute to run smoothly and make faster progress.

He, however, highlighted some of the notable feats recorded to include: approval granted for the provision of a dedicated electricity line to the institute.

“Over the years, inadequate supply of electricity has affected our operations adversely.

“For instance, we recorded losses of large amounts of genetic materials that were vital to our research activities during the days of erratic power supply.

“Your efforts led to the facilitation of the Presidential waiver, which made it possible for the institute to recruit essential personnel to boost its manpower.

“We particularly appreciate this because the institute has not been able to do this in the last seven years.

“We are also grateful for the opportunity provided for the institute to attend the genetic capacity building and management of gene bank,” he said.

Similarly, Alhaji Salihu Imam, one of the Agriculture Development Project beneficiaries and farmers’ representative in Oyo State, lauded the lofty contributions of NIHORT to agricultural practices in Nigeria.

According to Imam, the institute has been the only agency that gives farmers free fields; 20 to 40 hectares, to plant their mandate crops.


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