As projects make Gov Zulum hopeful
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
With political will demonstrated by the Buhari-led administration to boost food production, create employment for millions of youths and women through the agricultural sector, the National Agricultural Land Development Authority’s 100 hectares Integrated Farm Estate and fish villages set to create 4, 000 jobs for returning Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, and other indigenes in Borno State.
This was made known by the Executive Secretary of NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne, while explaining the number of jobs the farm estate will create, which according to Ikonne, over 1,500 jobs for the people will be created, then the 40 fish farms will engage over 2,500 women apart from processing and packaging activities.
According to him the farm estate would concentrate on livestock – cattle, goat, sheep, poultry and pasture as well as crop production, and others.
Meanwhile, during inspection of the proposed NALDA Integrated Farm Estate under construction in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State, he (Ikonne) in company of the Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, also made it known that his agency is making efforts to ensure economic operations commences before the end of 2021.
From his observation and knowledge, he pointed that there are a lot of untapped resources and potentials God has endowed Borno State with, which NALDA is in the State to unlock through its projects, and also will do all within its mandate to engage IDPs along various agricultural value chains with enabling environment as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The NALDA boss also maintained that Buhari’s drive, passion and vision is for NALDA to reactivate abandoned farmlands that belongs to it, upscale farming capacity of farmers, attract young people into agriculture and promote agribusiness.
According to him the farm estate concept is a strategy that is central and comprehensive in modern day agricultural practice to boost agribusiness, and that will serve as a catalyst to make the agricultural space more attractive and profitable, hence diversifying the economy.
However, he firmly affirmed that with the move and commitment of NALDA nothing would distract it from unlocking the enormous agricultural potentials in the 36 States and Federal Capital Territory, FCT, based on its initiatives towards reducing the huge annual food import bill, unemployment currently facing the nation, and also will do all within its mandate to boost agriculture in its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
Meanwhile, he appreciated and commended the Governor Zulum for the land donation and support for NALDA’s Integrated Farm Estate project which was an indication of his passion towards agribusiness and agriculture.
He said: “If we have all the Governors in the States throw their support around Mr President’s vision concerning agriculture, I bet you Nigeria will change for good.”
In responding, Governor Zulum expressed hope and excitement about the potential of the project, especially in job creation for people of Borno State as it would restore their means of livelihood as farmers and rekindle their hopes of a new beginning of their lives after going through bitter experiences as a result of insurgency.
He said, “The people of this area have completely lost their means of livelihood and having this project in Borno State would ensure that many of our youths would be employed.
“And from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the people of Borno State, we remain eternally indebted to the NALDA executive secretary for the good jobs that he has been doing.
“This again is another thing I want to see happen in Nigeria – the executive secretary is not sitting down in his office but going round to ensure that what they’re doing is right and I encourage him to continue in this spirit.
On scoring the level of construction work done at the farm site the Governor expressed satisfaction, “Looking at the quality of the job which had been done; 90 per cent of the projects done here have excellent quality and we need to partner NALDA.”
He also allayed fears and concerns over insecurity in the State on sustainability of the current investments as there is sustainability plan already put in place to ensure that the projects were secured from vandals.
“The number of projects that NALDA is doing in Borno State is mighty because the projects cut across all the 27 local governments areas. But the government has put in place a sustainability mechanism that will ensure the sustenance of these projects.
“Security is not a big deal because all the areas that have been chosen were chosen together with the Nigerian military and other security agencies but security is not a problem.
“We have factored in risk mitigation measures and other measures and so there shouldn’t be any problem.”