Nasarawa, like most states of the federation, is agrarian in nature with over 80% of its residents engaged mostly in subsistence agriculture as their main source of livelihood.
Conscious of the fact that agriculture is the principal driver of economic activities in the state which is richly endowed with vast agricultural potentials, Governor Abdullahi Sule, upon assumption of office, promised to prioritise this all-important sector.
Indeed, the importance of agriculture cannot be over- emphasised, as it serves both as a veritable and viable source of food to the ever-growing population in the country.
As a matter of fact, agriculture plays a significant role to both the human and economy of a nation; that is to say, it is the backbone of a nation’s economy.
In addition to providing food and raw material, it also provides employment opportunities to a very large percentage of the population in the country.
Perhaps that is why the Engineer Sule led-administration in Nasarawa is dedicating ample attention to agriculture which as the governor noted, remained one of the priorities of his administration in its determined desire to ensure food security in the state.
Governor Sule, himself a farmer by choice, vowed to make farming more lucrative by giving it all the deserved attention.
“The major part of our agenda is to encourage commercial agriculture in our areas of comparative advantage and boost value addition to our crops by laying a solid foundation for agro-allied industries. To this end, Government will work with interested investors to drive the sector to diverse levels of growth.
“Farm inputs such as fertiliser, improved seeds and seedlings, as well as agro-chemicals will continue to be distributed promptly to our local farmers” he added while assuring all the state government will do all it takes to make farming more rewarding so as to encourage youths to take to the occupation.
“We have set our targets in agriculture. We will continue to monitor the full expansion of Olam Rice Farm in Doma and Dangote Sugar Refinery in Awe very closely”
“The Nasarawa State Agricultural Development Programme (NADP) will be strengthened and repositioned for effective actualisation of its mandate”
“Government will explore all avenues to access our farmers to available agro-financing schemes and institutions to enable them to go into agricultural businesses. We will encourage farmers to form cooperatives where there are none for ease of access to funds, tools and other inputs”
“The three (3) major components of agriculture, namely: production, processing and marketing, will be accorded corresponding attention by the Government. Furthermore, the research capacities of the Faculty of Agriculture, Nasarawa State University, as well as the State College of Agriculture, Lafia will be strengthened”.
Barely two years into his administration, Governor Sule has continued to literally walk his talk in the area of agriculture with statistics indicating that more and more people including civil servants are turning to farming in the state.
One of the measures the state governor adopted was to make good his pledge of ensuring both availability and accessibility of farm inputs such as fertiliser, improved seeds and seedlings, as well as agro-chemicals available to farmers as at when due.
In line with this commitment, the governor recently launched the 2021 cropping season at GSS Andaha in Akwanga local government area of the state where he restated the determination of his administration to ensure that agricultural potentials of the state are fully harnessed for the overall benefit of the people.
He said until the state is able to exploit its agricultural potentials properly, Nasarawa may not be able to generate the desired employment for the teeming populace, as well as create wealth for the wellbeing of the society.
“I am happy to inform you that the Government has already concluded plans in collaboration with the Rice Farmers Association to attract investment of a whopping sum of N10 Billion to assist rice farmers in the State under the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme,” he stated.
He further stressed that the government will continue to partner and collaborate with development partners, as well as investors in the agricultural sector, in order to reduce poverty, improve income, create employment, produce raw materials for industrial growth, as well as attain food security.
The governor said his administration is flagging-off the sales of a total of 1,020 metric tons which is 20,400 thousand bags of fertiliser, 1,950 sprayers, 5 tons improved seeds and assorted agro-chemicals.
He disclosed further that effort is underway to procure more quantities of fertiliser to help rejuvenate most of our soils that have remained less fertile and unproductive.
The governor emphasised that the fertiliser will be sold to farmers at a subsidised rate of N5000 only per bag.
He recalled that, last year, the state government procured and distributed 240 metric tons of assorted fertilizers to dry season farmers at subsidized rates, while it also procured 930 metric tons (18,600 bags) of NPK 20:10:10 fertiliser for the year 2020 cropping season, aimed at improving agricultural production in the state.
The governor charged beneficiaries to ensure judicious use of the commodity to increase farm yields.
“I wish to also charge the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Local Government Distribution Committee to ensure that the relevant Small Holder Farmers benefit from this gesture of Government,” he said.
Engineer Sule warned against any attempt to hijack the sales of fertiliser and other farming inputs, stressing that violators will be met with stiff punitive measures, irrespective of their status in the society.
“Coordinators at various levels are to ensure remittance of sales to the designated bank account as any misappropriation will be met with appropriate sanction.
“I should also caution individuals and groups against purchasing the commodity and selling to farmers at exorbitant rates,” the governor warned.
Clearly, due to the commitment and support of the Governor Sule led administration, more and more people are reportedly turning to farming with the overall implication being the projection that should the trend continue, Nasarawa will reassert its dominance and position as the real food basket of the nation.