…calls on investors to invest on wheat production

By Gabriel Ewepu

WITH resolve to reduce unemployment among Nigerian youths through modern agriculture and agribusiness, the National Agricultural Lands Development Authority, NALDA, Monday, engaged 400 youths in Gombe State in wheat production.

This was done by the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer, NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne, at the ‘Groundbreaking Ceremony of 2021 Dry Season Wheat Production’ at the wheat production site in Dogon Ruwa community of Kaltungo Local Government Area of Gombe State.

Ikonne in his address explained why youths are paramount in the heart of President Muhammadu Buhari in terms of employment and engaging them in lucrative ventures such as wheat production following the dear need of the commodity in Nigeria as there is inadequate production of the commodity compared to its demand.

He further stated why the groundbreaking ceremony was done in Gombe, which according to him the environment is naturally good for cultivation of the crop including processing and packaging.

He said: “We are here in Gombe State based on the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari, have mandated NALDA to achieve food security and to have job opportunities for our teeming youths through viable agricultural value chains.

“But today we are to do groundbreaking ceremony of wheat production here in Gombe State. Nigeria as country is in dear need of wheat production. Our import value is more than what we produce, and we are consuming more than what we produce in terms of wheat so that makes wheat production very lucrative and very attractive for farmers.

“And now we will be encouraging farmers to go into wheat production in order to begin to earn a living income from wheat production, and that will help us reduce the volume we import and begin to consume what we produce on the mandate and directives of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Our wheat consumption is more than 6 million metric tonnes annually, and we are producing like 1.1 per cent of what we consume. Gombe has been positioned by your natural nature as the potentials and as one of the States that would be producing wheat in Nigeria.

“We will need more additional more sites in terms of land provision. This community that have provided the land they are the immediate beneficiaries as we provide them the herbicides, pesticides, pumping machines, seeds, technical support, we will encourage our youths to be more productive, make money from wheat production.

“It is a lucrative business and the Federal Government is positioned to support her farmers in the area of wheat production. NALDA will be seeking more land donations from this community so that we will engage more youths.

“This 100 hectares here will engage 200 youths, the other 100 hectares in Nafada will also engage additional 200 youths. So a total of 400 youths will be engaged in this season of wheat production in Gombe State.

“And NALDA will engage more youths among farmers if you provide more land. Seeing you as an agric-friendly Governor, Your Excellency, NALDA is positioned to partner with you. We are willing and ready to go all out to engage your youths as directed by Mr President.”

The NALDA boss also disclosed plans to establish an Integrated Farm Estate, where he added that the NALDA will provide a market called ‘NALDA’s Market for Vegetable’ with state of the art facility for farmers to prevent post-harvest losses following the perishable nature of vegetables.

“NALDA will also site the first Integrated Farm Estate in Gombe State based on your disposition.

“We enjoin you to also make yourself available as we lay the foundation by the end of this month.

“Having provided us with the enabling environment in the State, NALDA will be providing farmers with what we call ‘NALDA’s Market’ for vegetable, which you have provided us with a land that project will be completed before the end of February 2022.

“We want to thank you the Governor of Gombe State for your commitment towards achieving Mr President’s vision of achieving food security, engaging our youths and reducing unemployment”, he added.

Meanwhile, he (Ikonne) called on investors to key into the wheat value chain for more profit and to reduce heavy dependence on importation of the commodity, which high foreign exchange leaves the country.

“I use this opportunity to call on investors to begin to invest on wheat production as money is being made available NALDA will be positioning itself in providing water infrastructure in assisting in irrigation system as we go into massive wheat production in the country”, he said.

He also commended the Gombe State Commissioner for Agriculture and the entire NALDA management team in Gombe State, following the strong partnership.

“This is what integration and cooperation should be. Your support has made this project very smooth for NALDA. I used this to challenge other states going forward that partnership between Federal Government and State Government is for the benefit of the people to a large extent and the entire country. I sincerely thank the Commissioner for Agriculture and the community for giving us enabling environment.

“Your Excellency, once again thank you and I charge you to continue in this strength of creating the enabling environment for federal projects and your total support for NALDA could not go unnoticed as we position ourselves to support the President’s vision of lifting millions of people out of poverty and engage them in the entire agric production value chain”, he said.

Meanwhile, the Governor of Gombe State, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, who was Guest of Honour at the groundbreaking ceremony, commended NALDA for the project, and also other projects NALDA is executing in line with the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari in terms of creating employment for youths in the state.

“This groundbreaking ceremony is part of the commitment of both the Federal and State governments under President Muhammadu Buhari and my humble self as the State Governor towards boosting the agricultural sector and ensuring food security in the country.

“On this NALDA is following President Muhammadu Buhari’s mandate in making agriculture attractive to our youths to see agriculture as a business and a means of livelihood in order to attain economic prosperity.

“The dry season wheat production is in line with ongoing efforts to bridge the national deficit in wheat production in the country so as to reduce importation.

“The Executive Secretary of NALDA has already taken us through the quantity we demand in this country for over 6 million metric tonnes annually of which are not able to meet one per cent of it by local production.

“Dry season wheat production effort is to bridge this gap and the project is targeting nine states at the moment with a land size of over 2,500 hectares and is expected to reach at least 10, 000 metric tonnes because following the success by the grace of God, NALDA, the Federal Government, and private sector will join hands to see that Nigeria go through wheat consumption without necessarily importing a significant part of it”, Yahaya stated.

He also promised support for all ongoing projects of NALDA as they will benefit Gombe people and boost agriculture.

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