The clamour for making agriculture a business is only being achieved with the National Agriculture Land Development Authority’s (NALDA) arrival into the Agriculture scene JOHN OBA reports.
On June 1, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari took a decision that will rate his administration as one of the most futuristic in the history of Nigeria when it comes to agricultural development with the resuscitation of the National Agriculture Land Development Authority (NALDA) and the subsequent appointment of Prince Paul Ikonne as the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer.
The management of NALDA has been able to prove that Agriculture as business can work in Nigeria. But analysts believed that the successes recorded so far is made possible because the Authority is being supervised by the president directly and the determination of the Chief Executive Officer strong will to succeed.
It could be recalled that President Buhari while resuscitating the Authority saddled it with the mandate of harnessing the full potentials of the vast arable lands in Nigeria, empowering small holder and large Scale farmers and mechanize, support the drive for Food and Fiber security while assisting in diversifying the nation’s economy, improving household incomes and enhancing revenue mobilization and generation nationwide.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday to mark the one year of NALDA, Prince Ikonne said the management was spring into action with the mandate in mind.
‘With this directive in mind, we were determined to achieve Mr. President’s directive, so we reached out to Nigerians to volunteer and we got thousands of volunteers out of which we chose few to coordinate the activities of NALDA in various States while some staff were posted to us from Ministries and other Government agencies.”
With the directives from President Buhari, the Authority announced several programmes it outlined to achieve it mandate with times lines, strategies.
According to Ikonne, ‘We announced our animal husbandry programme, which included rabbittry and goat rearing in some pilot states. This program is a huge success as we have harvested over 30,000 litres of rabbit urine and 1,000kg of rabbit droppings, which are being used as fertilizer having subjected it to lab analysis and the rabbit farmers are making income from this.
“After Mr. President’s directive on recovery of NALDA abandoned farm estates across the country, we embarked on this vigorously and as at today, we have identified and recovered NALDA farm estates in the following States; Gombe, Borno, Adamawa, Taraba, Niger, Kebbi, Oyo, Imo, Katsina, Lagos, Ekiti, Delta, Bauchi, Yobe, Kaduna, Benue, Kogi, Osun, Anambra, Akwa Ibom and Abia States. We have started reactivating them in phases.”
He said the agency has engaged in dry season farming of rice in some pilot States of Adamawa, Niger, Yobe, Taraba and Bauchi, saying farmers were trained on dry season farming of which they were not used to and we are expecting harvest in the coming weeks.
“NALDA provided all the farmers required for farming ranging from tractors, boreholes, pumping machines, planters and transplanters, fertilizer and seeds.
“In order to achieve food security under the National Young Farmers’ Scheme (NYFS), which Mr. President launched in November 2020, NALDA introduced the training and empowering of young graduates through the initiative of Soil Doctors and Extension Service Providers. NALDA has trained over 500 soil Doctors in Borno and Jigawa states out of the 3000 target across the country.
“The essence of this is to equip young graduates with agriculture or science backgrounds with the knowledge of extension services, which include soil testing and analysis and they are being given soil-testing kits in order for them to earn a living while ensuring our farmers are being equipped with best agricultural practices for greater output. This program is in partnership with the State Governments.
A review of Nigeria fish sector with the title: “Offshore aquaculture practice; a potential for meeting Nigeria fish demand by O. A Akinsorotan and J O Jimoh in 2019revealed that the demand for fish in Nigeria is still not met, despite having a domestic production estimated at about 800,000 metric tonnes, while the demand stands at about 2.1 million metric tonnes per year and a shortfall of about 1.3 million metric tonnes. “To solve this problem Nigeria has turned to fish importation while several other policies are being put in place by successive administrations to improve on local production. However, none of the efforts has been successful so far.”
With this in mind and In line with NALDA’s mandate of achieving food security, and bridging this gap, NALDA embarked on establishing fish villages to engage rural women in fish production and packaging in some pilot States: Borno and Abia states.
‘In Borno, we have started construction of the fish villages in 10 locations out of the 50 locations provided by the Borno State Government to engage 2,200 women. While in Abia the fish village in one location is 40% completed,” Ikonne said
NALDA has partnered some State governments to reactivate abandoned State-owned farm estates. “In Imo, we have started the reconstruction and reactivation of the abandoned Acharaugo farm estate, which comprises of 20 poultry pens, goat pens, crop farming areas and feed mill and is expected to be completed by August while in Ebonyi State, we are in the process of reactivating the hatchery farm in Nkaliki.”
To deepen the development of agriculture and encourage youth participation, the Agency has initiated a program called NALDA Integrated Farms to be established in the 109 Senatorial Districts across the country for collaboration and provision of land. “We have reached out to the leadership of the Senate for Senators to facilitate land donation with the State governments. This program is under the NYFS and each integrated farm is expected to engage at least 1,500 farmers. The integrated farm estate will have poultry pens, goat pens, rabbit pens, fish ponds, crop farming areas, processing and packaging plants, storage, clinics, residential area, school, training centres as well as an administrative facility.
“The project has since started in Ogun, Anambra, Ekiti and Ebonyi States with land clearing ongoing while in Katsina and Borno States the project is 80% and 30% to completion, respectively. This is the prototype of the project to be replicated in 109 Senatorial districts, subject to availability of land,” he explained
Dry season farming
The ES further revealed that the Agencyq is prepared for the wet season farming across the country on the recovered NALDA farm estates, saying the State coordinators where the wet season farming will take place have been fully briefed and are prepared, as more land have been donated from Communities in Akwa Ibom, Cross River Yobe, and Adamawa States, among others for the purpose.
“All these achievements were made possible by President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to achieve food security and create employment opportunities in Nigeria. You will agree with me that by the time we realize the NALDA integrated farm estates in 109 senatorial districts in the country, we will not only achieve food security, but will reduce unemployment drastically.
“The benefit of engaging our rural women into fish farming and production is not only for local consumption but also for export in order to earn foreign currency. In addition, the beauty of the rabbit-rearing program is in harvesting the rabbit waste (urine and droppings) which are sources of an organic fertilizer due to its richness in nitrogen. This will help us to grow organic food, which is healthier for human consumption and our aim is to export the organic fertilizer,” he assured.
All these are not without challenges, as the Agency has had it’s own fair share of oppositions, with accusations and misinformation by politicians. Also the problem of insecurity which NALDA ES said did not stop the Agency from achieving it goals. The lack of cooperation by some state government is another challenge, as the Agency can not work without the tacit collaboration of the state. The encroachment of NALDA farm land in some state since it abandonment requires that state with such problem reallocate another land to benefit from the objective of the Agency.