By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
Agribusiness now taking a centre stage in the nation’s economy, President Muhammadu Buhari, is set to commission an Integrated Farm Estate completed by the National Agricultural Land Development Authority, NALDA, on Monday, July 19, 2021, in Daura, Katsina State.
This was made known by the Executive Secretary, NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne, while on a courtesy visit to the Governor of Katsina State, Bello Masari.
According to Ikonne the farm estate was initiated and completed within six months by his agency, and that 14 States were selected in the pilot phase from the six geo-political zones of the country, and targeted to build the capacity of 100 youths in three Local Government Areas in each of the pilot states on various agricultural value chains and production with the bid of making them agripreneurs and employers of labour.
He further explained that the integrated farm estate is expected to 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 and an administrative facility.
He also added that more States would be selected in subsequent phases of the programme to galvanize the agricultural sector to boost the economy.
He said: “The essence of the programme is to engage as many Nigerian youths as possible by giving them employment and empowering them with skills and tools to handle the business aspect of farming.
“This will enable farmers to get value for their products and the global economic trend warrants that we call on everybody to go back to farm.
“The government of President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that farming will be fully mechanised to make it more attractive and more profitable.
“And that is what NALDA is driving. In this project, we will engage institutions, corporate bodies, governments, and individuals to lease their land that is not in use so that we could put it to use in a way that will contribute to economic productivity and youth employment.”
NALDA was established by Decree No. 92 of 1992 under the military administration of former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, aimed at executing a National Agricultural Land Development Programme to address poor utilisation of farmland and rural labour resources, the challenge of capital intensive farmland development.
The agency existed until 2002 then was by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, but the was resuscitated in June 2020 by President Muhammadu Buhari, by amending the Act establishing it via the National Assembly for inclusive agricultural practice by the large rural populace mostly made up of young people across the communities in the 774 Local Government Areas of the 36 States including the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, with the aim to boost food security and mechanise agriculture through modern techniques in agricultural practice, hence the reclaiming and development of abandoned NALDA farmlands.
It will be recalled in a statement signed by Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina, President Buhari said, “We will do more to expand, modernise and revolutionise our agriculture, which is our most important asset.
“I have directed that all NALDA’s abandoned farm estates be retrieved to enable thousands of our young men and women to be engaged in farming.
“This Administration will be achieving agricultural mechanisation through this scheme and I am confident that Nigeria under my watch, will achieve food security in producing most of what we eat.
“In good harvest years, we may even export our surpluses and earn foreign exchange.
“By virtue of my passion and desire for agriculture and also as a farmer myself, I am directly supervising NALDA as an authority under the Presidency.
“I am asking the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and State Governments to give full cooperation to NALDA in its activities.”