Nasarawa state government is doing everything possible to revitalise agriculture. MOHAMMED YANGIDA reports.
Nasarawa state is reputed to be one of the leading agrarian states with at least 80 percent of its population engaged in one form of agricultural activities or the other.The state has all it takes for development, for instance, human resources, fertile soil and other resources.To this end, Governor Abdullahi Sule said the major part of his agenda is to encourage commercial agriculture in the areas where the state has comparative advantage and boost value addition to crops by laying solid foundation for agro-allied industries.In other words, he said he would work with interested investors to drive the sector to diverse level of growth.According to him, ” My administration is poised to place Nasarawa state on the global map as being front line rice producing state,” Sule said.He noted that the best and easiest way to get people out of poverty is through agriculture; therefore, he tasked all stakeholders to get the youths interested in agriculture, insisting that agriculture must be made attractive, particularly to the youths.On assumption of office, Governor Sule had ensured early distribution of 3,960 metric tons of fertiliser to farmers across the state for the 2019 farming season and sold at subsidised rate. Subsequently, the state government also made available another 50,000 metric tons.Sule warned the farmers against buying the products and selling at high rates, saying government would not condone the activities of such people.He noted that his government was working hard to encourage youths to go into farming through introduction of mechanised farming. He explained further that government would provide tractors and other implements for effective agricultural practice, as well as enabling environment for farming in the state.
Signing the agreement/MoU
On July 2019, the governor inaugurated automated agro processing company, NewPal Nigeria limited in Keffi.The managing director of the company, Mr John Samuel, said he was encouraged by the spirited goodwill demonstrated by the administration in encouraging agricultural activities in the state.The state commissioner for agriculture and water resources, Alanana Otaki, said when he visited some agricultural projects sites in Akwanga and Kokona LGAs that he was so moved by the demonstration of Sule’s commitment.The governor also signed a tripartite agreement between agricultural firm AZMAN Group and a first class traditional ruler, His royal highness Alhaji Abdullahi Usman the Ohemege Opandan on 45 years land lease agreement.The land totaling 12,400 hectares in Umaisha Development Area of Toto local government area is geared towards boosting rice production in the state.Interestingly, during the handing over ceremony of agricultural equipments by the Japanese government in Azara, Awe LGA, Sule disclosed that he has approved the release of N88 million as counterpart funds to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), for the state to participate in the value chain development programme for small farmers in the state.According to Sule, “Government signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with IFAD for the state’s participation in the value chain development programme, a scheme aimed at improving casava and rice value chains for small farmers.”He explained that through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGP), 442 rice farmers were empowered and trained to improve rice production technologies management with 35 front line extension agents also trained in good agricultural practice to be passed to other farmers as well as 11 extension agents that were trained in Japan on improved rice production technologies and research methods. The Japanese ambassador to Nigeria, Yutaka Kikuta, said farmers in selected three local government areas of the state would benefit from Japan’s agricultural funding to boost food production through mechanised farming in the state. He thereby donated 20 rice reapers and 20 rice threshers for use in three selected LGAs of Awe, Obi and Keana, respectively.
Sule’s appeal to IFAD,World Bank and FG
Governor Sule also appealed to IFAD, World Bank and the federal government to jointly support women small holder farmers and out growers in the state. He said IFAD’s support can go a long way towards value chain addition.”We want IFAD and the World Bank to support women because women are excellent farmers of rice.”By the time most of our commercial agriculture as well as the small holder farming programme are fully incubated, Nasarawa state will take over from Benue as the food basket of the nation.”The market enterprise development advisor, Hajiya Fatima Mukthar Buhari, revealed that the state was selected by IFAD among eight other states because of its enormous agricultural potentials and support for small, medium and large scale businesses.She said that her visit to Nasarawa was part of implantation support mission of IFAD and value chain development programme which focused on enhancing productivity and profitability of small scale agro processors by improving the access to market and capacity.
Approval of counterpart fund
Governor Sule also approved N 72 million counterpart fund for two years to guarantee agricultural activities in the state to access funds from United Nations Development Programme in global environment facility in order to empower farmers in the state.He maintained that the vision of his administration is to see that Nasarawa accounts for at least 25 percent of Nigeria’s total rice production.Governor Sule is not relenting in exploring all avenues to enable farmers go into agricultural activities and access available agro-financial means. To that extent, he is encouraging the expansion of Olam Farm in Rukubi, Doma LGA of the state.He also encouraged individuals across the state to embrace agriculture as a means of livelihood as well as boost the economic prosperity of the state.He said Olam farms has over 10,000 hectares of land for the rice value chain development especially with the out growers. “Olam Farms has over 4,000 out growers with more to come from other commercial rice farmers with operators like Azman Farms and Dangote Group coming into the state.”
The state government and leadership of CBN also reached an agreement on a N1 million loan facility on youth empowerment.
Visit to water resources ministry
He as well visited the Federal Ministry of Water Resources with the aim of partnering with the federal government on Farin Ruwa Dam project which was started by previous administration with memorandum of understanding MoU already signed between the state and federal government.The governor commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources for approving over N8 billion for the construction of the Farin Ruwa Multipurpose Dam as well as Sisin Baki/Farin Ruwa road.He thanked the federal government for coming to the aide of the state at a time Nasarawa needed assistance, saying even though the state government has commenced the construction of the Sisin Baki/Farin Ruwa roads, the federal government has now taken over the project with the approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The governor said when completed the project will generate direct employment to over 30 thousand Nigerian youths who are versed in agricultural development.The minister of water resources, Suleiman Adamu, commended governor Sule for awarding contract for the construction of access road to the site for Farin Ruwa multipurpose Dam project in Wamba LGA.Adamu encouraged Governor Sule to work towards making Nasarawa state Open Defecation Free (ODF) and to continue to give priority to Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) the basic ingredients of life. He assured that his ministry will remain focused and see to the completion of the Farin Ruwa project.The permanent secretary in the ministry, Mrs Ekaro Comfort said that the visit of the governor would encourage the federal government to do more for the government and good people of Nasarawa state; therefore urged Sule not relent on his efforts.The governor used the occasion by the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation to showcase some home-grown machineries that his administration is collaborating with the agency to revitalise agricultural production and processing in the state.