As the Russian-Ukraine war continues to drive price of wheat worldwide, the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) is set to add over 2.5million tonnage of Wheat from it 2,700 hectares farm to cushion and reduce the huge forex Nigeria spent on wheat import annually.
This is even as it commenced harvest of its first dry season wheat farm in Nafada Local Government Area of Gombe state.
Speaking during the harvest on Friday, NALDA’s Executive Secretary Prince Paul Ikonne, said the agency’s wheat farms across the country is targeted at achieving President Muhammadu Buhari’s food sufficiency as it will add 2.7 million tons into the market.
Ikonne who was represented by Director Engineering, Engr. Olusegun Owolabi, said the harvest is a proof that Nigeria can produce what she eats and eat what she produces.
He said the farm which sits on a 100 hectares land was cultivated in December of 2021 by 100 women and youth drawn from the community at a ratio of 1 hectare to a person and that the beneficiaries
were provided with 2 Brand New Tractors, Agro-chemicals, fertilisers, irrigation pump, improved hand tools, land clearing and technical guidance by NALDA.
He said the feat is worthy of celebration as NALDA is changing the narrative where huge amount is spent on wheat imports.
“This gathering is the celebration of the outcome of partnership between NALDA and Gombe State Government late last year, as the Authority observed that Wheat, an agricultural product is the third item in the national importation list and resolved to kick start rewriting the history which lead to NALDA collaboration with some states including Gombe to produce wheat”
On market availability, Ikonne said NALDA would get prospective buyers (processing companies) to offtake from the farmers.
While appreciating President Muhammadu Buhari’s support in ensuring Nigerians produce what they eat, Prince Ikonne commended the state commissioner of Agriculture, the Local Government Chairman, Traditional ruler and beneficiaries for giving their best in ensuring a good harvest.
Gombe state Commissioner for Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Alhaji Muhammed Magaji Gettado said the farm would improve the livelihoods of the farmers.
Gettado noted that before the establishment of the farm, youth of the community at this particular period of the year migrate to neighbouring Taraba state and other neighbouring towns to make earns meet but now they are around walking on NALDA’s dry season wheat farm.
The commissioner called on NALDA to take it a step further by providing harvest machines such as threshers for the farmers to enable them package a clean produce.
According to him, the level of commitment shown by the farmers would further encourage NALDA to do more for them.
He noted that the Ministry of Agriculture would provide threshers for proper threshing of the wheat.
Meanwhile, NALDA has also distributed over 500 pumping machines to farmers to boost irrigation farming at the NALDA’s Integrated Farm Estate in Suduje, Daura local government area of the state.
While presenting the machines to the beneficiaries, Ikonne charged them against selling the machines as it is for their benefit and that of their community.
“These machines are not for you to go sell, but they are for you to use and better the growth of your farms and earn more income for yourselves and family”
One of the beneficiaries a retired Technical college Teacher turn farmer, Abashe Ali Daura who engages in both wet season and dry season farming said the pumping machines would go a long way in improving and expanding his farm.
“I demarcated some part of my farm land for irrigation purposes, this machine would contribute a lot to the improvement of my irrigation farming where I farm vegetables and fruits like guava and I thank the federal government for this support”
A female beneficiary, Mrs. Murja Ahmed, a vegetable farmer who spoke in Hausa language said she was overwhelmed by the gesture noting that it would boost her income thereby supporting her in seeing her children through school.
“We thank the Almighty God for this machines the government has given us would really help us in supporting our children in their education and other things”
“And by God’s grace with the aid of this machine I would be more committed and put in more efforts into the dry season farming” she added.