The recent commissioning of Integrated Farm Estate at Saduje Village in Daura local government area of Katsina State, by President Muhammadu Buhari, has placed Katsina on a competitive edge among states that are boosting economic relevance through agriculture.
With the new development, having Katsina State government donating 100 hectares of land to National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) to build the Integrated Farm Estate for cultivation in various agricultural activities, the state will surely take the leading role in the country‘s agricultural sector.
The commissioning of the first Integrated Farm in the president‘s hometown, Daura, is not only setting the pace for agricultural revolution, but also in fulfilment of the commitment of President Buhari‘s target to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
This further gives insight to the declaration of the president that as a country, “We must produce what we eat and eat what we produce“.
The farm which is under the watch of NALDA would no doubt explore the available potential of job opportunities, entrepreneurship and avert youth’s restiveness in the state.
Being a Federal Government agency, NALDA is manned by agricultural experts, who majored in crop production, husbandry among others, with special interest in engaging youths to be self-reliant.
This explains why President Buhari resuscitated the authority to meet the nation’s growing needs in the agricultural sector, in line with its mandate of harnessing in full, the potentials in the vast arable lands in Nigeria, with the aim of empowering smallholders, large scale and mechanised farmers across the country.
While championing the drive for food and fibre security, NALDA is to also assist in diversifying the nation‘s economy by way of increasing household incomes.
Established in 1992, NALDA was abandoned due to the insensitivity of previous governments to maximise the potential derivable of the country for the overall benefits of the people.
The presence of integrated farm estate in Katsina State, through NALDA will in no small measure, increase the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of the state by 50 per cent if not more, thereby increasing the revenue profile of the state. Also, it is believed that the farm will change the agricultural fortune of the state as well as impact positively on the lives of the people.
The farm being the first organic farm facility, is also designed with the main focus of training and empowering 1,500 persons in agro-entrepreneur, and on various agricultural best practices to unravel the state‘s economic challenges.
Indeed, the farm if it fully takes off, is expected to generate over N1.7 billion annually, considering the various farming activities currently taking place therein, hence why the Aminu Bello Masari-led government, is giving all the necessary support to the farm, to help resuscitate the agriculture sector to drive the economy of the state.
The establishment of the farm was to increase the revenue profile of the state, reduce rates of unemployment and ensure food sufficiency as well as food security in the state. This, no doubt is strategic in the heart of Governor Masari‘s administration pushing to address the numerous economic challenges confronting the state.
Being one of the largest farms in the country, explains the commitment of the Federal and Katsina State governments to holistically revamp the agricultural sector, as well as harness potentials that will improve the economy of the state and the country as a whole.
Considering the many agricultural initiatives and policies of President Buhari targeted at the rural poor, informed why Governor Masari is Keen to revolutionise the agricultural sector, as well as to replicate those initiatives in Katsina, with the view to get the people out of poverty.
Meanwhile, the Integrated Farm Estate has capacities to accommodate over 400,000 birds, 200,000 fishes, 500 animals, 3,000 rabbits, 540 litres of honey per harvest, crop farming, packaging and processing zones are inclusive. It is a chain of activities taking place with immeasurable value for the government and the people of Katsina State in particular.
In addition to these, a 120 unit one-bedroom was built for the workers and their families, a school with a good water system and a clinic constructed to ensure the workers and their children are not deprived of the basic needs of life.
By the time the farm fully commences operation, it will be a centre of attraction, especially for those interested in crop and livestock production, as the farm has one of the best poultry, fishery, rabbitry, bee-keeping units in the country.
The chain of production in the farm is comprehensive, the first of its kind in Katsina and Nigeria at large, which comprises food and livestock, an irrigation system that enables farmers to have three production cycles every year, while farmers from outside the estate will also have their product processed and packaged for value addition.
With this development, the NALDA is pushing to make agriculture attractive to citizens of Katsina State, especially the youths and women, to train them in the new global innovative farming techniques to be self-employed in various farming skills.
The commissioning which brought stakeholders from the agricultural sector, to the integrated farm had drawn farmers across 13 communities in the state to participate on the agricultural practices.
President Muhammadu Buhari, at the commissioning, gave reasons behind the concept, relevance and benefits of the farms and ordered all federal institutions to work in synergy in diversifying the economy through agriculture.
The president also directed that NALDA should be given all the support needed to expand the Integrated Farm Estate across the 109 senatorial zones in the country, as he expressed strong determination on the federal government’s target of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of the poverty cycle.
He further explained that the maintenance of the nation’s economy remains agriculture, where the country already commands a competitive benefit, with good climate conditions for crop and livestock agribusiness, willingness to learn new skills, and good soil types for all-season farming.
He added, “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 steady migration from subsistence to commercial farming.
“With the support of public institutions, like the Central Bank of Nigeria 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 the world now places more emphasis on the 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, husbandry, and more recently, a rising youth interest.
Also speaking, the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, thanked President Buhari for his visionary foresight in halting the importation of rice and other commodities which he said developed additional chances for profitable food production and prioritising the agricultural sector at all levels of government.
He clarified that over 70 per cent of Nigerians depend directly on agriculture, while the remaining per cent depends indirectly on the sector, hence the need for Nigerians to diversify the nation’s economy by planting all year round for food production.
The governor added that the poor Nigerians across the 774 local government areas, have been empowered by the federal government in different skill acquisitions and other humanitarian social intervention programmes like the N-power, Tradermoni, and 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 produce, many Nigerians were sceptical that we cannot 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.“
On his part, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, disclosed that the financial regulatory body would start giving special attention to NALDA, listing some of the laudable achievements of the present administration through the Anchor Borrower’s scheme for farmers.
He said, “Mr President, as you told me during the inspection, I agree with you that this is the best way to spend money. You are doing everything possible to bring the dividends of democracy to all Nigerians.”
Earlier, the executive secretary of NALDA, 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.
Reiterating that the entire farm has the capacity to generate over N1.7bn in the first year, and the authority has already designed a management system where Jaiz Bank will manage the entire facility with a team of NALDA’s professionals for continuity and sustainability.
He added that 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 explore the available potential of job opportunities, entrepreneurship and avert youths restiveness.