The Federal Government and Benue State Government move to collaborate on massive food production and job creation in order to tackle security challenges and poverty. This was made known by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammad Nanono, during a courtesy visit by the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, at the weekend, in Abuja. According to Nanono Benue State have great potential in food production and the move will further boost productivity and employment generation in the State.
He also said on the issue of soya beans production, the federal government is taking it into serious consideration as it is a critical value chain capable of generating high foreign exchange for the country. He said: “The Federal Government will partner with Benue Government on agricultural initiatives. Each of its Local Government Areas will benefit.
On the issue of soya beans production, we are taking a critical look into this area as a means of boosting food production and creating employment. We have enormous market potential for soya beans in China.” The Minister also disclosed that soon the federal government’s Agricultural Mechanization Programme, AMP, will kick-start in 632 LGAs in the country for full mechanized farming. He further explained that scope of the AMP covers job creation, technology transfer, agricultural production, industrial processing, marketing, and economic growth in boosting food production, which forms the initiative. “Each of the 632 LGAs will have service centers and each center will have a brand new tractor fully equipped with the admin and IT workshop, there would also be stores for seeds, fertilizer and excess produce. “With these, we will link farmers up with processing industries especially clusters at the local government producing the same thing will be provided with processing plants. “The investment of potential manager of the service centers may not be more than N 5-6 million, but they will own assets worth the tune of N150 million for a period of 15 years. “A tractor that works for an estimated N 60, 000 -N75, 000 per day, can make income of about N30, 000-N40, 000 per day after expenses and with this the service centers can pay for the tractor in an average of 6-7 years. The tractors can last for about 25 years”, he stated. He also made it known that, “The loan we are getting can only finance 10,000 tractors, the gap for improvement in terms of bridging the gap in agricultural mechanization is so huge. But we hope that this will work very well so that the private sector can drive it.” Meanwhile, he called on people in the local government areas to come up with proposals that would proffer solutions that could better manage the service centers, and assured that the federal government will guarantee the facilities.
Governor Ortom while speaking earlier maintained that the political will and commitment of government at all levels in engaging young people in agriculture would address many challenges facing the country including insecurity. “If you ask me, Nigeria’s major challenge is not the security problem alone, but unemployment and agriculture remains the one sector that has the capacity for creating jobs, and wealth for the teeming jobless youths. If we are able to engage the youths, we will have fewer problems in the country. “We are committed to partnering and collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to ensure we provide food security for Nigeria and beyond. “Benue State has 35,000 sq meter of land, more than 95 percent of the land is arable and most of the food produced in the country can be produced in Benue State, and our farmers are able to do all year round farming”, he said.