President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) to set up integrated farm estates in 108 senatorial districts across the country.
The executive secretary of NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne, disclosed this at the weekend to State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja.
He appealed to state governors to key into the president’s desire to make land available for farm estates to be established, which is expected to take away thousands of youths from the unemployment market and engage them productively so as to achieve food security in the country.
Ikonne said the Kogi State government has donated 700 hectares of land to NALDA for the integrated land estate while the 100 hectares of land donated by the Ogun State government had been cleared.
He said, “What you see is that agriculture is one of Mr President’s heartbeat projects, and he wants to see that we achieve food security in the country and NALDA is strictly under the supervision of Mr President and that is why you can see the progress that we’re making.
“I believe that the commissioning of the Daura Integrated Farm Estate in Katsina State which has the capacity to take in 1,500 young farmers, is a stepping stone or an eye-opener for Nigerians towards Mr President’s passion in achieving food security.
“Now, we didn’t stop at the Daura project, as we speak, the Integrated Farm Estate in Borno is 75 percent completed and we are also doing in 40 locations, fish villages to engage women to take in those people who are coming, the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), in order to get them reintegrated and get them engaged, thereby providing job opportunities for them.
“As Mr President is pursuing achieving food security, at the same time also creating job opportunities for Nigerians is on the front burner and that is what we are achieving, or we are doing using the NALDA platform,” Ikonne said.
The NALDA boss continued, “Again, in Kogi State, we have received from the governor 700 hectares of land, which is the first phase of that project that will be commissioned this year. Clearing is about to commence and we believe that the first phase of that project, which will engage over 4,000 youths into the entire agricultural process, thereby creating employment and reducing herders/farmers’ clash.”
“That farm in Kogi will address issues between herders/farmers because we are going to cluster the herdsmen, provide them with pastures and the facilities they need like water and others that will help to support their business in cattle rearing.
“Again, in Ogun State, we have finished clearing 100 hectares of land and the access road has been provided in that place and that farm will take in 2,500 youths. The president gave a directive that we must make agriculture attractive to young Nigerians so that they will be engaged and I’m glad to inform you that that directive is not being taken with levity because when the president speaks, it’s a command and you can’t wait when you have a command from Mr President, knowing fully well that agriculture is his heartbeat and he wants to achieve food security.
“Not only in these two states that I mentioned, we are in Abia State where we are putting up a fish village to engage women in fish production and packaging and in all our farm estates, a finished product is our target, so that Nigeria will cut the chain of exporting raw materials and at the same time buy them because most of agricultural produce are purely raw materials, like ginger, garlic, onions and all that, they export them and then they processed and come back to us.
“So, we are putting up processing centres in all our farm centres in order to create more job opportunities for Nigerians,” Ikonne said
“If not for Mr. President’s proactive initiative towards farming, the COVID-19 would have knocked everybody out, having been locked in a room or in a house for one year, nobody went to farm, but because of the proactive initiatives he took before COVID-19 came, there was enough food for Nigerians to eat.
“Going further, we are seeking more land donations so that states, governments and communities should make their lands available. The president has directed that we should put up this integrated farm estates in the remaining 108 senatorial districts and NALDA is ready to roll out, and for those states that have made the land available, they can as well testify that no time is being wasted as we have swung into action.
“So, I call on other state governors to key into Mr President’s desire and make land available for this farm estates to be established, as this will take away youths from the unemployment market and engage them and we’ll be able to achieve food security in a very short period of time,” he said