The Director of the Federal Department of Agricultural Extension; Mrs. Karima Babangida has announced that the annual demand for maize in Nigeria was almost 8 million tonnes.
Mrs. Babangida said this on Tuesday in Zaria where a seven-day training workshop for women on modern skills of maize production, processing, and Marketing. The workshop was organized by the Federal Ministry of agriculture and rural development and was held at the Institute for Agricultural Research in Zaria. This workshop was held in order to further the diversification of the nation being encouraged by the federal government.
Speaking at the workshop, the message of the director was delivered by Mrs. Sugra Mahmud who is an assistant director at the ministry. She read that the production of maize within Nigeria was put at about 7.2 million tonnes and they have to import maize from other countries in order to bridge this difference. This depletes the foreign reserves of Nigeria and is taking jobs away from the unemployed citizens in the country.
“This is a situation that is unacceptable and inimical to our economic development as a nation. Therefore, there is a huge market opportunity that can absorb additional local production,” she said. She also stated that the increase in unemployment had become a threat to daily activities and security of lives and property not to mention the major threat it poses to the quality of life.
The director continued by explaining that the training that the women were attending was to broaden their minds and show them ways that they can be engaged and helping the nation while they make profits. It is therefore in line with the administration’s effort at addressing the problem of unemployment in the country.
“As you are all aware, agriculture is pivotal to the success of the current administration’s economic diversification drive. Under Green Alternative- Agriculture Promotion Policy of the present administration, the issues of unemployment, wealth creation and food security are being addressed.
The present administration recognizes the need to harness and mobilize the resources of the country into actionable agricultural programs that are people-oriented in order to make a meaningful impact on the economy”, she said.
Babangida further explained that the training was targeting the youth and women of the nation because women account for 49% of the population while the youth account for 62%. She also added that the informal sector was where most women were engaged and that unemployment rate rose to 47.4% among women in the last quarter of 2016.
This is why the training was under a program known as the Youth and Women in Agribusiness investment. The aim of the program is to capture beneficiaries with requisite skills to undertake enterprises along different priority chains that had food and nutritional security.
“Therefore, no meaningful development can take place without empowering these two groups”, she concluded.