Over 60 million people consume sorghum, millet in northern Nigeria – Minister

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By: Bamidele Fashube

MUHAMMAD Nanono, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, says not less than 60 million Nigerians rely on the consumption of Sorghum and Millet in northern part of the country.

Nanono disclosed this at a meeting facilitated by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Nigerian Partners, held at the ministry in Abuja.

The minister said the use of quality seeds remain vital to food security in the country.

Emphasising on other bi-products of the crop, he justified the rationale the crop is grown across the arid region.

“As you are aware, sorghum and millet provide a diet for most of the population who live especially in the arid and semi-arid tropics of Africa including Nigeria. These crops are major staple food consumed by over 60 million people living in Northern Nigeria where it is mostly grown, whereas groundnut is the major crop for production of vegetable oil and critical feeds,” Nanono said.

“The crops are widely consumed in different forms as food and beverage; having a good source of some very important nutrients as elements like copper, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium.”

As a result, the minister affirmed government’s commitment to supporting food production efforts, stressing that the sector remains a major source of employment for many.

He disclosed that the ministry already commenced efforts to strengthen the value chains, hence, the stakeholders’ workshop on millet to strategize on improving production.

According to him, a similar stakeholders’ workshop held on Sorghum value chain and the efforts were directed to ensure quality seeds are available to the farmers.

He, thereafter, applauded ICRISAT for its contribution to the seed industry.

Mrs. Karima Babangida, the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture in the Ministry, in her remarks disclosed how the ministry’s value chain signed a Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with ICRISAT to boost sorghum production, commercialization and industrial utilization as well as processing.

“In the cropping season of 2020, ICRISAT supported the ministry by providing certified seeds of sorghum, millet and groundnut to farmers as COVID-19 pandemic palliative.

“Presently, I have been notified that ICRISAT and its partners have conducted surveys on adoption and impact of technologies and analysis of sorghum, pearl millet and groundnut in Nigeria and Sorghum, pearl millet and Groundnut value chain Analysis in Nigeria.”

ICRISAT Country Director, Dr. Hakeem Ajeigbe in his presentation described the potentials of production, processing and distribution segments of the groundnut value chain for instance as enormous.

“…they could be exploited by relevant government departments at all levels for livelihoods improvement and create job opportunities.”

He later called for proactive measures to ensure sustainable linkage while efforts are intensified to increase access to improved seed varieties.

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