By Gabriel Ewepu
AS Federal Government makes effort to reduce food importation bill, the Executive Secretary Chief Executive Officer, National Agricultural Lands Development Authority, NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne, disclosed of engaging 300 young farmers in dry season wheat farming in Jigawa State.
Ikonne made this known during flag-off of the dry season wheat farming in Marke in Kaugama Local Government Area of the State on a 100 hectares land donated by the State Government.
He explained that the wheat farming in the area is to also reduce youth unemployment in that part of the State, and also to increase more wheat farmers that would sustain the value chain as fresh blood is being injected into the system.
Meanwhile, he pointed out that Jigawa State was chosen for the official flag-off of the dry season wheat farming because of the soil texture good for wheat production.
He also made it known that wheat production is taking place in nine State including Jigawa State, this will lead to reduction of importation of the commodity to boost local production.
He also said NALDA has provided seeds, pumping machines, generators, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides to farmers in the areas, while tractors had commended land clearing, tilling and ploughing in order for farmers to meet up before the end of the dry season farming.
Also the agency would provide input support, capacity building of farmers along the value chain, supervision and support, and also off-take the produce, and ensure market for farmers after harvest.
He maintained that NALDA is following President Muhammadu Buhari’s mandate to make agriculture attractive to youths in the country and encourage them to see agriculture as a way of life and means of wealth creation.
He said: “I am glad to inform us that the State Government has provided us with land, but we would still ask Your Excellency to provide us with more lands as NALDA intends to make Jigawa the Hallmark of Wheat production in Nigeria”
“This 100 hectares donated or provided by the state government would take 300 hundred farmers which NALDA would be providing them with the seeds, pumping machines, pesticides and herbicides and the end of the day NALDA would do the off taking from them so that farmers would have value, so it is purely an out growers project that NALDA has brought to Jigawa State.”
However, the NALDA boss assured commitment to collaborate with the State Government on the project, which he requested for more lands, hence will increase number of youths to be engaged in agribusiness.
In responding to the gesture, the Jigawa State Governor, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, made it known that Jigawa State currently ranks amongst top in wheat production in the country.
Abubakar also commended NALDA’s intervention in the State and expressed optimism that his State soon emerge biggest wheat producer in Nigeria, and his administration will support NALDA to execute the project.
He further stated that such support from the Buhari-led administration through NALDA and Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme, effort to galvanize agriculture under his administration is complemented as far as diversification of the economy is concerned.
“We reiterate our commitment from the governor down to the extension worker that you would need in the field, we are committed to this development, we committed to agriculture and we are committed to obeying President Muhammadu Buhari who asked us to produce what we eat and eat what we produce”
Meanwhile, the Governor appreciated NALDA for training 270 youths in the state to be soil doctors as it would add value to the state’s agricultural sector.
“I want to also thank you most sincerely for training 270 young men of Jigawa state to be soil doctors and you just promised me that the kit that they would use is being ordered and would soon be delivered for distribution to them so that they would carry out soil analysis on our farms so we move to near precision farming and application of the right fertilizer for each land portion in the State”, he said.
While responding to the NALDA boss’ request for more land donation in the State, the Governor said Jigawa State has over 400,000 hectares of land good for all year round farming, which the state is ready to donate more lands to NALDA to boost farmers’ productivity.
However, he charged NALDA to replicate the Farm Estate model in the State as further push to boost agribusiness among the people.
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