Governing Council Members,
Ladies and gentlemen.
I bring greetings from President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Nigeria launched a major agricultural Transformation Agenda in 2012. Our goal is to add 20 million MT of food to the domestic food supply by 2015 and to create 3.5 million jobs. We are also driving import substitution by accelerating the production of local food staples to reduce dependence on food imports and turn Nigeria into a net exporter of food.
We ended the approach of treating agriculture as a development program. We now treat agriculture as a business to generate wealth for millions of our people.
Several notable achievements have been recorded.
We launched the first ever database of farmers in the country, which has allowed us to know our customers – the farmers. We started with 4.2 million farmers in 2012 and will expand this to 9.2 million farmers by 2013.
We ended four decades of corruption in the fertilizer sector within 90 days, by taking the government out of the procurement and distribution of fertilizers and seeds. To reach the farmers directly, we used the power of mobile phones in their hands. Farmers received subsidised seeds and fertiliser vouchers on their mobile phones - or electronic or e-wallets- which they use just like cash to buy inputs directly from the agro-dealers. Nigeria is the first country in Africa to launch an electronic wallet system for the delivery of subsidised inputs to farmers.
Within one year, the e-wallet reached a total of 1.7 million farmers. In 2013, we will scale this up to reach an additional 5 million farmers. The system has expanded private sector opportunities. Fertilizer companies sold $100 million worth of fertilizers directly to farmers, instead of the government. Seed companies sold $10 million worth of seeds directly to farmers. Banks lent $20 million to seed, fertilizer companies and agrodealers. The default rate under the scheme was zero percent.
Because we reached farmers directly, they were empowered. Our targeted farmers produced an additional food supply of 8.1 million MT, which was 71% above the target set for the program in the first year.
Nigeria is well on course with its policy to become self-sufficient in rice production by 2015. In 2012, we produced an additional 690,000 MT of paddy or 462,000 MT of milled rice. By the end of the dry season, we would have added an additional 1.2 million MT of paddy or 804,000 MT of milled rice. Our rice self-sufficiency would have increased from 58% to 68 %. In the past one year, 14 new private sector integrated rice mills have come on stream, with total capacity of 240,000 MT (160,000 MT of milled rice).
Our cassava substitution policy for wheat is working. Already, three of the corporate bakeries in the country have started using 20% substitution of high quality cassava flour to replace wheat flour in bread. The cassava bread is being popularized through nation-wide training of master bakers. The cassava bread is healthier, tastier and 30% cheaper than 100% wheat flour bread, which makes bread more affordable for the rural and urban poor. It is also saving Nigeria scarce foreign exchange while building local markets. We are also working with the private sector to expand the use of cassava for starch, dried chips for export, ethanol, sweeteners and sorbitol, which are attracting major global investors such as Cargill, Unilever, Flour Mills of Nigeria and other local companies. Our goal is turn Nigeria, which is the largest producer of cassava in the world, into the largest processor of cassava in the world.
Nigeria witnessed a devastating flood in September of 2012 which led to loss of farm lands and displaced several farmers and affected national food production. The Federal Government put in place a Flood Recovery Food Production Plan to mitigate the impacts of the floods, with $65 million. We accelerated food production in the dry season, with free distribution of seeds and fertilizers to farmers affected by the floods and subsidized inputs for farmers in areas that are not affected, to boost food production. The success of the growth enhancement scheme, which ensured that 8.1 million MT of additional food was added to the domestic food supply, helped the country to avert a food crisis. Five months after the floods, Nigeria does not have famine or a food crisis.
Our focus on driving agriculture as a business is also paying off. In the past one year, we secured $ 8 billion in private sector investment commitments to the agricultural sector. Our agricultural transformation efforts created 2 million farm jobs in the past one year, reducing youth unemployment in our rural areas, where unemployment rates are higher than in urban areas.
Nigeria is appreciative of the strong support of IFAD in its drive to transform its agriculture. The support of IFAD with $78 million towards our cassava and rice production efforts will go a long way in solidifying the gains that we have already made.
Nigeria is also proud today on the re-election of Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, as President of IFAD, and wishes to convey its appreciations to all the member countries for their strong support.
Nigeria wishes to re-affirm its strong support to the IFAD President as he begins his second term. Nigeria has pledged $15 million for the 9th replenishment and will fully meet its obligations.