Francis Sardauna writes that with the commissioning of Integrated Farm Estate in Katsina, the Buhari-led administration is achieving agricultural mechanisation and food security.
President Muhammadu Buhari on July 19, 2021 commissioned the newly established Integrated Farm Estate built and equipped by the National Agricultural Land Authority (NALDA) which is designed to efficiently accommodate, empower and position a new set of 1,500 agro entrepreneurs every year in order to diversify the nation’s economy and enhance food security.
The NALDA integrated farm estate, cited in Suduje, Daura Local Government Area of Katsina State, is designed with a complete production chain for food and livestock, an irrigation system so that farmers will have three production cycles in a year, and farmers from outside the estate will also have their products processed and packaged so they can get more value.
It comprises 40 poultry pens with a capacity of over 400,000 birds, fish ponds with a capacity of 200,000 fish, cow and goat pens with a capacity of 500 animals, rabbit pens with a capacity of 3,000 rabbits, bee apiary with a capacity of 540 litres of honey per harvest, crop farming, packaging and processing zones.
The 100 hectares farm estate which is expected to generate over N1.7 billion in the first year, has a school, clinic and residential area with 120 units of one-bedroom apartments for the farmers and their families to live and work on the farm. The integrated farm, if properly harnessed and replicated across the country will increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP), reduce unemployment thereby achieving food sufficiency.
With the farm’s poultry, fishery, rabbitry and beekeeping unit and a processing and packaging zone for chicken and pepper, it is expected that the historic integrated farm estate will attract and keep young Nigerians busy in crop and livestock production all year round. Importantly, about 95 per cent of the nutritional requirement of the system is self-sustained through resource recycling.
Interestingly, participating farmers from the 13 communities of Suduje, Madobi, Kaya, Sharawa, Sukwanawa, Dadin Kowa, Daberan, Benga, Kurneji, Zari, Mazuji, Tambu and Dannakola are being trained on global best agricultural practices in crop farming, livestock, poultry, rabbits and fish farming, among others.
Speaking during the ceremonial commissioning of the integrated farm estate, President Muhammadu Buhari, said his administration decided to resuscitate the hitherto moribund NALDA to meet the growing agricultural needs of the country and the management of the agency under the leadership of Prince Paul Ikonne had not failed him.
He directed all federal institutions to work in synergy in lifting and diversifying the economy, and NALDA should be given all the support it needs to expand the Integrated Farm Estate across the 109 senatorial zones in the country, saying with more determination on the part of the federal government, the target of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty cycle is realisable.
Buhari therefore, canvassed more synergy between government and the people, and diligence in diversifying the economy, with agriculture as the backbone to realise the goal, adding that the nation is blessed with both human and natural resources that could achieve his administration quest of lifting the 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
According to him, the mainstay of the nation’s economy remains agriculture, where the country already commands a competitive advantage, with good weather conditions for crop and livestock farming, available manpower and willingness to learn new skills, and good soil types for all season farming.
He said: “The country is robustly blessed with good weather conditions, good soil, human and material capacity, and a resilience to make a difference by all the hardworking youths. We can do it, and we will do it. No excuse will be good enough to remain a mono-economy with all the challenges in oil production and fluctuating global prices when we have vast opportunities in crop and livestock production.”
Buhari stated that reliance on oil has become a drawback on the economy over the years, with unpredictable and fluctuating global prices that made it more difficult to effectively plan budgets, implement and measure outcomes.
He added that: “as the world becomes more globalised, countries will continue to draw from their competitive advantage to remain relevant. My belief, and it is also shared by many Nigerians, is that our country has a special advantage in food and livestock productions that we must harness and promote to feed ourselves, and build a firm structure for exportation.
“Our vision of a robust agricultural economy continues to provide amazing results. Across the country today, we are seeing rising public and private interests in agriculture, especially among the youth, and a steady migration from subsistence to commercial farming.
“With the support of public institutions, like the Central Bank and Bank of Agriculture, old tools are giving way to more mechanised styles of farming, credit lines are becoming more accessible, and farming is becoming more acceptable and fashionable. Indeed, we are witnessing a revolution in the agricultural sector.”
He reiterated that a globalised world places more emphasis on competitive edge of the economy for relevance, and Nigeria will always play a leading role in the agricultural sector, with the vastness in experience, crop cultivation, animal husbandry, and more recently, a rising youth interest.
The president appreciated the governors, who were at the event to witness the historic inauguration, particularly Governor Aminu Bello Masari of katsina State, for providing a 100 hectare land for the project, and urged them to provide more support to federal institutions that have been mandated to work in engaging more minds and hands to turn the economy around for good.
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, who also spoke at the event, said the financial regulatory body would start giving special attention to NALDA, while listing some of the laudable achievements of the administration through the Anchor Borrowers scheme for farmers.
According to Emefiele: “Mr President, as you told me during the inspection and I agree with you that this is the best way to spend money. You are doing everything that is possible to bring the dividends of democracy to all Nigerians.”
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of NALDA, stated that the Integrated Farm Estate had a capacity for 400 birds in the poultry, 200,000 fishes, 500, 000 cows and goats, 540 litres of honey per harvest, 120 units of one bedroom apartment, clinic and a school.
He said: “These farmers are being trained on best agricultural practices in crop farming, livestock, poultry, rabbits and fish farming. Sustainable development is the only way to promote rational utilisation of resources and environmental protection”.
“The participating farmers are from 13 communities, namely Suduje, Madobi, Kaya, Sharawa, Sukwanawa, Dadin Kowa, Daberan, Benga, Kurneji, Zari, Mazuji, Tambu and Dannakola”, Ikonne. The entire farm has the capacity to generate over N1.7b in the first year. This farm has the capacity to engage 1,500 women and youth directly”.
He explained that the integrated farm estate is designed to accommodate, empower and position a new set of 1,500 agro entrepreneurs every year from this category, adding that the programme is under NALDA’s National Young Farmers Scheme (NYFS), which President Buhari launched in November 2020.
In his remarks, the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, applauded President Buhari for his leadership foresight and vission in stopping the importation of rice and other commodities which he said created additional opportunities for efficient food production and revitalisation of the agricultural sector at all tiers of government.
He explained that over 70 per cent of Nigerians depends directly on agriculture while the remaining per cent depends indirectly on the sector, hence the need for Nigerians to diversify the country’s economy by farming all year round for the sustainability of food production.
According to Governor Masari, the poor of the poorest Nigerians across the 774 local government areas of the country are being empowered by the federal government through different skill acquisitions and other humanitarian social intervention programmes like the N-power, Tradermoni, Anchor Borrowers Scheme, among other notable programmes.
He said: “When Mr President stopped the importation of rice and other commodities; that we must produce what we eat and eat what we produced. Many Nigerians were skeptical that we can not produce enough and there will be hunger in the land. But today, Buhari has been vindicated and history will continue to vindicate him more in times to come”.
Meanwhile, the resuscitation of NALDA by President Buhari to meet the nation’s growing needs in the agricultural sector and the inauguration of integrated farm estate in Suduje-Daura, would explores available potential of job opportunities, entrepreneurship and avert youths restiveness.
Thus, Katsina State government under the leadership of Governor Masari must be commended for donating 100 hectares of land for the NALDA’s Integrated Farm Estate.