…engages 77,400 youths across 774 LGAs
…reaches out to Nigerian military, NASS, others for collaboration
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
The federal government on Monday gave details of how it planned to achieve food security for all Nigerians to essentially mitigate the harsh economic realities in the post coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic era.
The newly appointed Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the revived National Agricultural Land Development Authority, NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne unveiled the plans in Abuja at his inaugural media briefing on his work-plan.
It will be recalled NALDA was created in 1992 by the military government of Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and went into extinction in 2000 during the fusion of agencies by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
However, in 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari amended the Act establishing it and resuscitated the authority to optimally deliver on its mandate of developing the rural communities through agriculture.
Speaking at the press conference, Ikonne outlined three thematic areas for short term gains, saying that a total of 77,400 youths will be engaged across the 774 local government areas for various agriculture programmes.
He said the authority was already in talks with the military and paramilitary organizations, National Assembly members, civil and public servants, journalists, corporate bodies, religious organizations and individuals on how to put various empty lands into useful purpose.
He said: “The President, having given a marching order when he said “we must produce what we have to eat” NALDA as an authority under the Presidency has come up with programs in order to meet this directive by Mr President.
“Our short-term programs are providing farm inputs such as improved seeds, fertilizers, machinery, environmentally friendly crop protection agents, growth enhancers and training which will be given to already existing farmers and this will assist them during this farming season in order to improve their yield.
“Buhari Young Farmers Network. With this initiative, we intend to have 77,400 young farmers injected into Nigerian farming business across the nation in different farming activities ranging from crop farming to animal husbandry. These young farmers will be drawn from the 774 Local Governments, with a pilot number of 100 per local Government. In this initiative we will partner with Governors for provision or donation of land and other stakeholders as this will create employment and food production will be increased.
“Back To Farm. We will use this program to encourage everyone to go back to the farm by reaching out to the military and paramilitary organizations, NASS members, civil and public servants, journalists, corporate bodies, religious organizations and individuals. You will agree with me that all these organizations mentioned and some individuals have land that is not being put to use, so we intend to encourage them to use these lands for farming even if it is for personal consumption.
“These 3 programs are our starting point in order to meet the immediate mandate of Mr. President for providing food for all and we intend to achieve this within the next 6 months.”
The Executive Secretary while emphasizing the need for mechanized agriculture stated that the core mandate of NALDA was to create wealth for the country through farming.
He said that the authority will partner with other sister agencies to make Nigeria an agro produce exporting country.
Ikonne, therefore, called for volunteers and other interested persons to register through a dedicated website.
“Our intention of going by NALDA’s mandate is to make agriculture a business and a source of wealth creation for the country. This we intend to achieve by increasing palm oil and soya beans production for export among others. Nigeria’s potential in the agricultural sector cannot be overemphasized and having identified the lapses of why we as a nation have not attained the height of food sufficiency, NALDA under my watch will provide the required leadership and with the support of Mr. President, we will achieve our mandate.
“NALDA will partner and collaborate with other government agencies and international organizations in order to attain food sufficiency and make agriculture the main source of revenue for Nigeria from export.
“Ladies and gentlemen, members of the press as I have mentioned earlier, we have work to do, we are conscious of that and have assembled a team of professionals and we will keep co-opting more committed, knowledgeable and dedicated people to work with. I call on patriotic Nigerians who are interested in working with NALDA as volunteers to go to our website www.nalda.ng to register.
“I use this opportunity to call on all Nigerians and stakeholders, to see agriculture as a business and to solicit for their support as we take off today towards achieving food security which NALDA will be driving. I declare the website open for people to register as NALDA volunteers and as Buhari Young Farmers”, he said.