The Federal Government has lamented the inability of the country to produce enough millets to meet the needs of Nigeria, noting that there is a shortfall of 4.4 million metric tons in production of the crop.
Speaking at the weekend at the Millet Food Festival 2023 organised by the Indian High in Nigeria, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar 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 tons while our national production is 2.0 million metric tons. 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.”
He said: “The Ministry is in dire need to improve the productivity of the crop so as to enhance farmers’ income, attract more youth to millet cultivation, meet our food and industrial demand and continue to the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”
He added that: “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,” insisting that: “The concept of Nigeria Millet Initiative is a good one since farmers will be supported to produce millet with local content as organic fertilizers thereby reducing the cost of production and increasing productivity.”
Also speaking at the occasion, the indian High Commission to Nigeria, Mr. Shri Balasubramanian revealed that his country was willing to collaborate with Nigeria to improving millets 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 the Niger State as a part of Nigeria Millet Initiative. H.E HRH Alh. Dr Yahaya Abubaker, Etsu Nupe & Chairman, Nigeria Millet Initiatives, H.E. Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, Secretary to the Government of Niger State, H.E Abubakar G. Abdullahi, Director Federal Department of Agriculture, Nigeria, Several Ambassadors, Traditional Rulers participated in the event. H.E HRH Alh. Dr Yahaya Abubaker, Mr. Abhilaksh Likhi, Additional Secretary, Director Federal Department of Agriculture and High Commissioner gave their remarks on the occasion.
In his brief remarks,the High Commissioner said that the United Nations General Assembly has 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 stands to provide a unique opportunity to increase global production, ensure efficient processing and consumption, promote a better utilization of crop rotations, and encourage better connectivity throughout food systems to promote millets as a key component of the food basket.
He noted that: “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 and Nigerian Export Promotion Council also participated in the event.
Apart from this showcase many partner organisations put up their food stalls including stall of Niger State Showcasing Niger State Cuisine. A cooking competition was also organised by the High Commission of India in which 16 participants took part. Spouses of the Ambassadors of South Korea, Indonesia, Czech Republic, IITA Nutrition Expert and Chef of Johnwood Hotel were the jury of the competition. Several cultural performances from Niger State artists and from Federal Ministry of Information and Culture were also the part of the event.