TUNDE OGUNTOLA and MUHAMMAD ZANGINA KURA take a look at the ongoing transition in Jigawa State from subsistence to mechanised farming as well as efforts geared towards experimenting with new crops to boost yield.
The role agriculture has played in Nigeria’s economy cannot be overemphasised. Little wonder agriculture has been regarded as the most viable root with which Nigeria can meander from her current woos. Concerned by the need to boost the sector, the federal government, relevant stakeholders, partners and private institutions have so far been working tirelessly in promoting the role farmers play towards achieving sustainable agriculture and also achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted on 25 September, 2015 by Heads of State and Government at a special United Nations summit.
However, as a result of the dwindling performance of agriculture in the country, the government has over the years formulated and implemented various policies and projects aimed at putting back the agricultural sector to its vital place in the economy. But with evidence from empirical literatures, no significant success has been achieved due to several problems confronting the performance of the sector including the inglorious killings arising from farmers/herders’ clashes.
In late 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari launched the pilot phase of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) to enhance agricultural productivity in the country and sustain the prediction that Nigeria can be a world power in the agriculture sector, simply because the nation is blessed with an abundance of natural resources to ensure that it strives.
Apparently, hearkening to a direct response to the call by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for Nigerians to return to agriculture as the mainstay of the nation’s economy, rather than relying solely on oil as the only source of revenue for the country, the Malam Alu Agro Allied Company, a farm sited on a 100-hectare land in Faru village, along Maiduguri Road, Birnin Kudu local government area of Jigawa State was established.
The goal of the farm is simply to change the perception of Nigerians from subsistence to mechanised farming. During a visit recent visit to the farm, the minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed described the tallest Nigerian flag, erected on the farm in Birninkudu local government of Jigawa State, as a symbol of national pride that can be registered into the list of the nation’s national monuments.
The minister stated that while the national flag is normally erected by officials, however the tallest flag was elected by an individual Hon Farouk Adamu Aliyu.
He said, “In fact, this flag demonstrates the deep sense of National patriotism Hon Aliyu has and it is worthy of emulation.”
Speaking on the investment in the farm, the mi sister said, “The agricultural investment in Malam Alu farm and other parts of the state is a clear example of the success of federal government agricultural revolution policy, indeed Jigawa is a reference point.”
The minister stressed the need for the federal government to include the flag in the list of national monuments to be displayed for national and international visitors.
The company’s founder, Aliyu said the farm is one of the classical examples of large-scale farms where modern techniques of farming are fully adopted.
He said, “We do greenhouse farming. We have a 10,000 square-metre fully automated soilless greenhouse, where we produce tomatoes.
“We also have two 250 square-metre greenhouses where we produce other greenhouse vegetables, and another 500 square-metre greenhouse, which is being used as a nursery.”
Aliyu said the farm acts with a quality policy that increases competitive power in manufacturing and service organisations with a quality management philosophy.
“At Malam Alu Farm, our basic principle is to collect, process and deliver to consumption the healthy, reliable and economical products that will respond to the needs and expectations of our customers.
“In collaboration with our team of experts, we carry out any process ranging from the collection of products to processing, packaging and shipment thanks to our capabilities, technological infrastructure and plant.”
As part of the farm efforts to revolutionise agricultural practices in the country, he said the vision of the farm is to becoming one of the top producers in Nigeria with healthy products we offer against lack of branding in the agricultural field in our country, our wide range of packages and brand awareness, as well as becoming a sought-after brand across the globe.
Speaking further, Aliyu said the farmland also comprises a fertilizer blending plant that produces about 40 tonnes per hour of a blended fertilizer which he said is the first of its kind in the northern part of the country.
He said the farm also housed a dairy with 400 heads of cows, a greenhouse that produces 15 to 20 tonnes of tomatoes per week.
On his part, Jigawa State governor Muhammad Badaru Abubakar said the Malam Alu-Agro Allied Farm is one of many agricultural investments made by the Jigawa people in response to President Muhammadu Buhari’s clarion call on Nigerians to produce what they eat and to eat what they produced.
Badaru assured the commitment of the state government to continue supporting small and large-scale farmers in the state to boost their production through adopting modern agricultural practices.
Badaru then promised to continue supporting small and large scale farmers in the state to boost their production via adopting modern agricultural practices.
Commenting on the agricultural revolution embarked upon by the state government, the Emir of Dutse, Dr Nuhu Muhammad Sunusi, described the development as one of the major contributing factors that make Jigawa State one of the most peaceful state in the federation.
“Various agricultural interventions and social security programmes by Jigawa State and the federal government have created jobs and make people busy which consequently reduce domestic violence and other criminals’ activities in the state,” the Emir said.
LEADERSHIP gathered that other gigantic agro-allied investments in the state include Gagarawa Sugar-cane plantation and sugar factory which provide more than 15,000 direct jobs when it commences full production.
The project was going alongside sugar cane yield from the seed plantation averaging 100 tons per hectare almost 20 per cent more than expected.
Presently the plantation which had been expanded to 150 hectares in the first phase and would get to 1,000 hectares by the end of the year on the way to meet the 12,000 hectares target in three years
The plantation has the largest and most sophisticated irrigation plant in the country where a fully computerised control room regulated irrigation, fertiliser and pesticide application throughout the plantation automatically using sensors in the field.
Also, the factory which is a subsidiary of Lee Group Company will also be producing furniture, papers, seasoning and sugar around its 12,000 hectares sugar plantation with a projection of over N100 billion cash flows into the state.
Meanwhile, the Dangote Rice Mills Hadejia which has the capacity of milling 800 metric tonnes per day is another agro-allied industry attracted by the state government’s economic diversification policy.
When completed and commence full production the company will generate over 10,000 jobs with projected cash flows of over N90 billion annually.
This is even as WACOT Ltd has so far engaged about 7,000 farmers in Sesame production and they plan to integrate additional 10,000 farmers. The company said it will buy not less than 500 metric tons of the product from farmers for exporting to foreign countries
The Jigawa Rice Mills have already commenced production. It has the capacity of milling 400 metric tons per day.
Jigawa Axon Limited Andaza is a factory established by foreign investors and it has already commenced buying and cleaning sesame for exportation.
According to the State Investment Promotion Committee in the next three years the budget and cash flows to be generated into the state by those industries mentioned and others around the state will be five times higher than the state government annual budget.