By Amuda Dan Sulaiman Fab
Agriculture being the backbone of Nigeria’s economy, is regarded as one of the most significant contributors to the nation’s GDP as it provides millions of job employment opportunities.
Successful agricultural sector comes with greater maximum security by increasing national income and improved standard of living, because 100 per cent of raw materials come from agriculture.
Nigeria cannot live without the existence of Agriculture, but people are not more involved in agricultural practice like before, due to impatience, quick money with less hard work.
Kogi State is blessed with abundant natural resources as well as vast arable land suitable for farming activities, which are being maximally utilized by the present Administration of Governor Yahaya Bello.
The new Direction Government under the able leadership of Governor Yahaya Bello, which came on board on January 27, 2016, had made tremendous achievements in all sectors of the economy, especially in Agriculture.
In spite the general economic challenges in the country and the Covid-19 pandemic the New Direction Administration has made giant leaps in creating food security through agricultural intervention programmes.
Gov. Bello being agriculture friendly, declared a state of emergency in the agricultural sector immediately he took over the mantle of power in Kogi.
In his bid to ensure food sufficiency in the state especially staple food, the governor, established a 50 ton-per-day Rice Mill, sited at Ejiba in Yagba West Local Government Area.
The Project gigantic rice mill has since been completed and currently producing Confluence Rice which is one of the best Rice in the Country. Over 800 hectares of Rice farms had also been cultivated to provide paddy for the mill.
Development of Agriculture and Cassava Production
The State Government through Ministry of Agriculture, also keyed into the Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS), powered by the Central Bank of Nigeria for youths and women empowerment, in the development of Aquaculture and Cassava Production.
Under the Scheme, the Kogi Government constructed 600 earthen ponds evenly distributed in the State’s three Senatorial districts; 200 in Idah for Eastern senatorial district, 150 in Ejiba for West, and 83 in Adavi-Eba and 67 in Geregu for Kogi Central. Some of the ponds have been allocated to the beneficiaries.
In addition, a Hatchery at Aiyetoro-Gbede in Ijumu Local Government has been completely rehabilitated and has commenced the production of fingerlings/Juveniles. Four Fish Feed Mills was established at Geregu, Idah, Ejiba, Adavi-Eba.
The AADS programme also have 100 hectares of land each in Ojapata, Osara 1 and Osara 2, which have been cleared and tractorised and allocated to Kogi youths for Cassava production.
This necessitated the establishment of five cassava processing mills, at Ogbadu in Dekina, Osara in Adavi, Ageva/Achoze both in Okene, and Aiyetoro-Gbede in Ijumu Local Government Areas, to serve the cassava farmlands.
The state government is also working in conjunction with some World Bank funded Programmes such as: The Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Support (APPEALS) project, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development/Value Chain Development Programme (IFAD/VCD).
Procurement of Farm Machinery and Farm Inputs
The state government under the Agricultural Mechanization Policy (AMP) of the Bello’s administration, secured approval and procured: 40 MF 375 2-Wheel Drive 75 Horse Power Tractors with full implements.
Implements such as three Big threshers; Power tillers, Boom Sprayers; Rice Reapers; and Planters with fertilizer application attachment, as well as Hubs and 10 Ploughs to complement the existing tractors, while accessories for nineteen 6-inches Water Pumps were purchased for the irrigation activities of the ministry.
Bello, being a governor who is highly sensitive to women and youth inclusion in governance, also distributed 1000 power tillers to women farmers across the 21 local government areas of the State.
Gov. Bello’s administration also procured N59.8 million worth of Organic (Geo Plus NPK, Geo Green Urea) fertilizer, handed over to the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Support Project (APPEALS) which were distributed to farmers.
The government also approved funds to procure agricultural inputs such as agro-chemicals, seeds, seedlings, herbicides, knap sacks and liquid fertilizers which were sold to farmers at highly subsidized rates, as well as the repair of abandoned five Bulldozers, 1 Low Bed, 1 Excavator.
The administration of Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has also made giant strides in green house farming through the establishment of a Green House at Osara for the cultivation of vegetables such as Pepper and Tomatoes.
Over 1,000 hectares of land was also cleared for farmers at Ejiba, and in Olamaboro and Dekina LGAs, for agricultural production.
The administration also engaged a Consultant for the Anchor Borrowers Programme and collaborated with the Central Bank of Nigeria to facilitate the empowerment of 4,955 farmers.
Under the same anchor borrowers’ programme, the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) partnered with the state government and enrolled 13,000 farmers across the State.
The government also released fund for the engagement of a Consultant to carry out Study, Design and Production of Bill of Engineering Measurement and Evaluation (BEME) Document on Omi Irrigation Project spread on 571 Hectares of land.
Nursery sites at Kabba, Lokoja and Ochaja, were resuscitated so that Cocoa, Cashew and Oil palm seedlings could be raised for farmers across the state.
The state government also sunk borehole in the ministry’s premises to provide water for the demonstration of Nursery and Fish Farm sites, while earthen ponds were constructed and stocked with about 3,000 fingerlings to enhance the demonstration of Aquaculture activities in the Ministry.
The Hatchery in Aiyetoro-Gbede was rehabilitated and it has commenced the production of fingerlings and juveniles.
Speaking recently to a team from Armed Forces Command and staff College, Nigeria, who were on Study Tour to Kogi, the State Commissioner, Mr David Apeh, said Bello, being agriculture friendly governor, had ensured that food security is guaranteed in the state through procurement of 40 Tractors, establishment of Rice Mill at Ejiba, increased crop production and its value chain development through regular payment of counterpart funds for all World Bank’s assisted funded projects.
He added that the governor had graciously approved the recruitment of 25 Veterinary Doctors in order to ensure good health and welfare of his citizens in the 21 local government areas of the state.
He said the ministry also Constructed/Rehabilitated Poultry Pens for Poultry Production and organized Ram fattening in the Ministry for demonstration and to generate revenue.
”The ministry flagged off the vaccination of 60,000 cattle against contagious bovine pleunopneumonia (C.B.P.P) across the state, and against Peste de Pestit Ruminants PPR. The exercises were done free of charge for herders/farmers in the State.
”A modern Abattoir was constructed in Lokoja (Felele), while a Slaughter-Slabs-and-Meat-shops-Implementation-and-Enforcement Committee was set up. The Committee has commenced the registration and regulation of Veterinary Premises, Abattoirs and Meat Shops to ward off quacks.
”The Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on the establishment of a Bio-fuel factory and Sugarcane Plantation at the Alape Staple Crops Processing Zone.
”His Excellency released money for the survey of 20,000 hectares of land in the zone. This will create about 2000 jobs for our teeming youth in the State.
”On Alape Special Crops Processing Zone a stakeholders’ meeting was held in Kabba where consultants carrying out Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) were conducted and forwarded to the African Development Bank (ADB) for approval; we await the take off of the project.
”The World Bank Assisted Project “Agro Processing and Productivity Enhancement Livelihood Scheme (APPEALS), has empowered 1,700 Youths and Women in Cassava, Rice, Cashew production and its Value Chain, Poultry and Fish production and its Value Chain,” Apeh said.
The commissioner added that the APPEALS had constructed Agro Processing Centres across the state, and assisted about 2,000 farmers in cashew, cassava and rice Production.
Apeh said that Kogi CARES (FADAMA), also a World Bank assisted project, was integrated to cushion the effect of COVID-19 in the areas of rice and cassava production as well as poultry farmers by giving them inputs across the state.
”The IFAD-VCDP, a World Bank assisted Project, is also assisting farmers in area of rice and cassava production, processing and its Value Chain in five local government areas.
According to him, Mini Processing Machine for Rice and Cassava were installed in the five benefiting local government areas of Lokoja, Ajaokuta, Ibaji, Kabba/Bubu and Olamaboro.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the IFAD-VCDP Country Director, Ms. Dede Ekoue, who led a delegation on a courtesy visit to the Government House, Lokoja, thanked the state government for all the support given to VCDP activities, especially the prompt payment of its counterpart funding.
Ekoue said the team was in the state for a Mid-Term Review (MTR) of IFAD-VCDP activities being implemented in nine states including Kogi.
According to her, the objective is to access all the progress made, look critically at challenges to be addressed, and opportunities to further leverage on to scale up the impacts.
“We want to do our work based on evidence which shows that youths are priority for Kogi State. We salute your dedication to gender equality as well as youth inclusion.
“We already known that your leadership had been instrumental for the results we have achieved in Kogi and we want it sustained,’’ she said.
The country director disclosed that about 6000 farmers had benefitted from various programmes under the IFAD-VCDP in the state.
Ekoue sympathised with the government and people of Kogi over the recent flood that ravaged the state, saying that IFAD-VCDP was already given its support to farmers’ victims through the distribution of inputs to boost dry season farming activities.