By Joy Odor
Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, has flagged off the 2020/21 dry season distribution of fertilizer to farmers, urging officials handling the distribution to employ new strategies with a view to cutting off middlemen.
Engineer Sule gave the directive while launching the sales of fertilizer and other farming inputs to farmers in the state, at a ceremony in Lafia, on Tuesday.
The Governor stated that the launching of the fertilizer distribution and other farming inputs for farmers, demonstrated the commitment of his administration to ensure effective distribution process in the delivery of inputs to farmers in the state, as well as ensure year round farming.
While lamenting that the process of fertilizer distribution was hijacked last year, with the farmers accessing the commodity from third parties, he called on officials saddled with the responsibility of distributing the fertilizer, to ensure that only genuine farmers benefit.
He emphasized that his administration wants to make sure that whatever is there to be distributed, should go directly to the end users, with nobody interfering with the process along the way.
According to Engineer Sule, if the fertilizers and other items failed to get to the desired beneficiaries last year, the officials handling the distribution should evolve a new strategy to ensure the items get to the farmers.
The Governor disclosed that government has subsidized the fertilizer and would be sold to farmers at N5000 per bag.
He said following the promised made by his administration at inception to improve the agricultural sector for the socioeconomic development of the state, government has continued to give the sector a pride of place, especially that agriculture is the major occupation of about 80 percent of the population of the state.
“This is intended to improve the livelihood of our people, to ensure optimum employment of our labour force, as well as achieve sustainable food security in our state,” the Governor said.
Engineer Sule pointed out that because Nasarawa State is endowed with fertile land and good climatic condition suitable for growing arable crops for both domestic consumption as well as export, his administration has taken the advantage to attract investors into the state.
So far, the Governor disclosed, his administration has attracted investors such as the Olam Farms, that is currently working on 10 hectares of land in Doma, cultivating over 4000 hectares and employing over 4000 people in the state.
Also, the Dangote Group, which is occupying 68, 000 hectares of land, with a goal to produce over 420, 000 metric tons of sugar, amounting to 35 percent of the entire sugar consumption in the country.
The Azman Rice, which has over 14000 hectares of land in Toto Local Government Area, is working to produce rice in the area, as well as the Flour Mills of Nigeria, that has acquired 20, 000 hectares also in Toto LGA, using 10, 000 for sugar cane production and another 10, 000 hectares for cassava production.
The Governor further stated that his administration has continued to partner with different organizations, which saw the state government committed to buying some modern farming implements that will assist farmers preserve their produce.
This partnership, according to Engineer Sule attracted a German agro-tech firm that will not manufacture and assemble farming equipment in Nasarawa State, with additional commitment to buy 250 of these equipment for farmers in the state.
The Governor showed appreciation to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, for selecting Nasarawa State to be among the nine states in the country that will benefit from its intervention programme.
On his part, the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, in a keynote address, commended the Nasarawa State Government for commencing the distribution of fertilizer and other farming inputs for the 2020/21 dry season farming, which will endure all year round farming.
The Minister decried that the food production system in the country is facing challenges caused by the effect of climate change, which include flood disasters in Northern and Central parts of the country, poor rains in the South and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Represented at the event by Hajiya Karima Babangida, a director in the ministry, the Minister, as mark of support for the Nasarawa State Government, presented farm inputs for about 400 farmers in the state.
Alhaji Nanono explained that Nasarawa was selected to be among 9 states that will benefit from the intervention programme of the ministry because it is one of the food baskets of the nation.
The items donated by the ministry include 200 bags of certified rice seeds, 1000 litres of herbicides, 800 litres of insecticides, 800 bags of NPK fertilizer, 400 bags of Urea fertilizer and 800 litres of soil amender.
Other supports from the ministry that will come to the state include siting of a yam storage facility in Lafia, establishment of cassava processing centre at Adogi, sheer butter processing centre at Shabu, with already a rice processing plant already working in Lafia, supported by the JIKA.