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X-raying Katsina’s Restoration Agenda For Agricultural Sector

X-raying Katsina’s Restoration Agenda For Agricultural Sector
Aminu-Masari

The Katsina state governor launched the anchor borrower’s programme for rice production in the state as part of an overall initiative aimed at restoring the lost glory of agriculture in the state. In this report, LEADERSHIP Sunday assesses the launch in line with the state government’s agricultural restoration agenda.

 

Like most states of the federation, especially the northern states, Katsina state is endowed with vast land believed to be suitable for the cultivation of different crops. Indeed, farming and other agricultural activities of animal rearing remained the main stay of the state’s economy.

Available statistics indicates that each of the 34 council areas of the state has vast potential for the cultivation of different food crops that ranges from rice, wheat, sorghum, beans, sesame seed, cassava, maize and cotton among others.

Findings revealed that the state is the largest producer of cotton which is cultivated in commercial quantities in most of the council areas in the southern part with Kankara, Funtua and Faskari council areas said to be leading the pack.

Perhaps it was in appreciation of this fact and in line with an overall objective of supporting the move towards sustainable food security that the state government listed agriculture as one of its cardinal policy.

Recently, as a means of taking the agricultural restoration agenda further, the Katsina State Government keyed into the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP) for rice production in dry season.

Indeed, the programme which is part of the federal government’s initiatives to diversify the economy and ensure sustainable food security afforded Katsina state government ample opportunities to highlight its marshal plan to tackle challenges currently facing the agricultural sector, including its vision for adequate rice for local consumption and eventually for export.

At the launch of the programme at Jibia, the State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, unfolded his restoration agenda for the sector and how administration would actualize this dream on fresh rice for the people of the state and Nigerians.

Masari who assured that all efforts would be geared towards restoring the state’s lost agricultural glory said what is needed for adequate food security for the ever increasing population is ideas capable of generating new thinking, attitudinal change and empirical measures reflecting the essence of change.

As part of the strategies to bolster irrigation activities at the Jibia irrigation site for the farmer in the ABP on rice production, Masari said the state government shouldered the operational and maintenance costs in the interest of its people who are the major beneficiaries of the project.

“This year alone, over N58 million was expended for the repairs and maintenance of generators, water pumps and provision of diesel for irrigation purposes,” he said.

He also promised farmers in and outside of the project in the state that rehabilitation works in seven irrigation schemes of Kwanar Are, Yartsaku, Makera, Ruwan Sanyi, Daberan, Sankaya and Bakori were nearing completion.

While commenting on provision of fertilizer and key inputs, Masari said he would ensure intervention through provision of 5000 metric tons of fertilizer out of the state total stock for sales at highly subsidized rate to irrigation farmers not participating in the programme since it has a complete package of inputs integrated into it.

As a demonstration of his administration’s commitment to support the CBN anchor borrower’s programme, Masari said “620 units of 3 inch and 2½ inch water pumps worth N20 million have been directly purchased and will very soon be distributed”

Continuing, he said “similarly, contracts for the rehabilitation of Daberan, Ruwan Sanyi and Masari dams at the estimated costs of over N250 million, N118 million and N30 million respectively have been awarded.”

What are the plans of the state government to support the much needed mechanization? Masari said the state government was making efforts to provide 300 tractors, 1000 power tillers and 300 irrigation kits among others in the shortest possible time, adding that the state is making consultation for the establishment of rice research centre in Daudawa with a huge ware house in Dandume.

He explained that the government is setting up a tomato factory in Kakumi in conjunction with National Research Institute of Chemical Technology (NRICT) at a total cost of about N35 million.

According to him, contracts worth over N171 million had been awarded for weather stations in most of the 34 local government areas in the state without such valuable modern instruments of guiding farming and agriculture had been awarded.

“The state ministry of agriculture is currently conducting farmers’ data capture in order to have an authentic farmers list and the identification of soil types suitable for the planting of various crops in the state among which is that of rice.

“We are also in collaboration with some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and foundations like the Comparative Africa Rice Initiative (CARI) under the John Kuffor Foundation to ensure that we leverage opportunities that come from such bodies in the interest of our state,” said Masari.

In a speech, the deputy Governor Mannir Yakubu, said the state government earmarked about eight billion which represents nine per cent of its total budget in 2017 for agriculture.

“The Anchor Borrower Programme is primarily a developmental initiative aimed at increasing production, processing and marketing of our local farm produce. It is also designed to help local farmers to gain access to quality inputs such as improved seeds, fertilizer, water pumps, herbicides and pesticides, credit facilities and raise their knowledge on new farming techniques.”

“It is also a practical step geared towards economic diversification particularly in consideration of the potential of agriculture in job creation, food security and its overall multiplier effects,” he noted.

Speaking exclusively to LEADERSHIP Sunday, the Katsina state deputy governor whose responsibilities included overseeing the ministry of agriculture said the state has high prospects of achieving food security soon.

“We met an agricultural sector that was abandoned even though Katsina state is predominantly an agrarian state. But the current administration has commenced aggressive reforms aimed at restoring the lost glory of agriculture”

The deputy governor listed efforts to reposition farming and agricultural activities in the state to include the construction of over ten earth dams to support irrigation  farming, provision of soft loans to farmers, procurement and sales of fertilizers at subsidized rate to  farmers and ‘the procurement of tractors for distribution to farmers’

Yakubu insisted that Katsina state is on the verge of attaining self-sufficiency in food production with the implementation of laudable agricultural policies and stressed that the current administration was restoring the state’s lost glory in agriculture stressing that “the prospects of sustainable food security are high in the state now”

“The state ministry of agriculture is currently conducting farmers’ data capture in order to have an authentic farmers list and the identification of soil types suitable for the planting of various crops in the state.

Yakubu also disclosed that the government decided to key into the anchor borrowers programme because it is a robust initiative with built-in mechanism to make Nigeria self-reliant in line with the present administration’s economic diversification agenda.

The Deputy Governor said the state government earmarked about eight billion which represents nine per cent of its total budget in 2017 for agriculture as a demonstration of its commitment to boost the sector and noted that the APC administration inherited an agric sector that was comatose in the state and noted that aggressive reforms are being implemented in the sector to ensure sustainable food security.

Interestingly, it appears the state government’s investment in the sector is yielding positive results as cross section of farmers confirmed that they witnessed bumper harvest in the 2016 farming season.

 

Source: Feature

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