Food security: Nasarawa Governor Sule seeks further collaboration with Federal Ministry of Agriculture
Governor Abdullahi Sule has sought further collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, stressing that his administration will key into the programmes of the ministry with a view to boosting agricultural production in Nasarawa State.
Governor Sule made this known while on a visit to the headquarters of the ministry in Abuja on Wednesday.
With Nasarawa State known as a state with tremendous potentials in agriculture, the Governor said he was at the ministry to consolidate on the already existing collaboration between the Federal and state governments towards ensuring food security.
“We are here from Nasarawa State because Nasarawa State has been known in the area of agriculture and we believe that we can buy-in and participate in everything that this ministry is doing,” Governor Sule said.
He disclosed that presently, Nasarawa State being the largest producer of sesame in the country, second largest producer cassava and yam and number 5 in rice production in the country.
“Our plan is to do more than number two and five. If it’s possible we want to be number one in all these categories,” the Governor said.
While appreciating President Ahmed Bola Tinubu for creating and appointing capable hands to oversee the ministry, and for adding food security to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, he congratulated Senator Abubakar Kyari on his appointment as Minister.
“I want to thank Mr President for this initiative. The initiative of creating a ministry now that is not just for agriculture but also having food security attached to it. The essence of emphasizing food security means a lot. From the various directors mentioned under the Ministry I can see the sincerity in the mind of Mr President on food security. And there is no better appointment than to bring people who are competent, qualified who are true and genuine loyalists of the administration,” he stated.
Governor Sule was optimistic that with the present arrangement, President Tinubu is sure to succeed as far as agriculture and food security are concerned.
He used the opportunity of the visit to update the minister on various agricultural initiatives in Nasarawa State, particularly commercial agriculture with industry giants like Olam Farms, Dangote Group, Nigeria Flour Mills Ltd and Azman Farms, amongst others.
The Governor explained that Olam is cultivating 10, 000 hectares of land for rice production, with about 50 percent of the paddy required by the company being produced by local farmers through an effective outgrower scheme.
He said though Olam is only able to cultivate 4000 hectares of land presently, the company has shown desire to do more and is working on establishing a second rice mill in the state.
Governor Sule added that Nasarawa State is also home to the Dangote Sugar Refinery which is cultivating 68, 000 hectares of land for sugar plantation, the largest sugar plantation in Africa.
He informed the minister that through the Dangote Sugar Refinery alone, Nasarawa State has the potentials to produce about 450, 000 tones of sugar, amounting to about one-third of the country’s sugar consumption based on the projected annual sugar consumption by the sugar council of 1.3 to 1.7m metric tones.
The Governor said Nasarawa is also home to Flour Mills Nigeria, 20, 000 hectares of land which is for sugar and cassava, as well as Azman Farms with 14, 000 hectares strictly for rice production.
He told the minister that Nasarawa State is willing to collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in order to ensure these agricultural projects are fully utilized.
Governor Sule particularly requested the minister to undertake a visit to these agricultural sites with a view to ginger the investors to hasten the completion of the projects.
“I will urge the Minister to visit these farms. It will mount pressure on the investors to hasten and complete the projects. The visit will also afford the Minister the opportunity to see the focus of the government. Any time you visit such huge commercial project, it puts pressure on the investor to understand that you are watching and that something was going on,” he added.
He recounted how his recent visit to Alhaji Aliko Dangote yielded fruits after the business mogul hired one of the best hands in sugar refinery to be deployed to the Dangote Sugar Refinery in Awe Local Government Area of the state.
The Governor restated the commitment of his administration to key into the initiatives of the ministry and to provide the necessary farmlands and farmers towards actualizing the vision of the President Tinubu administration in the areas of agriculture and food security.
“When you come to Nasarawa, you will get land that is good for agriculture and you are meeting people who are willing and knowledgeable. Bigger than all that, is you are meeting a government keen and interested in ensuring that we support our farmers to feed this part of the country,” he stated.
Governor Sule informed the minister that already, his administration has kickstarted the dry season farming through the distribution of 13, 000 bags of assorted fertilizers and other farming inputs to farmers in the state.
In his response, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, said the visit by Governor Sule demonstrates the collaboration that the ministry seeks to achieve between the Federal Government and the state governments with a view to significantly boost food production in the country.
The minister expressed confidence that the synergy between the tiers of governments would more readily assure positive outcomes in the nation’s quest for improved agricultural production.
Senator Kyari disclosed plans by the ministry to launch the second phase of the Federal Government’s dry season farming initiative, with all the 36 states and FCT expected to participate in the production of maize, rice and cassava on properly identified irrigable farmlands cultivated by genuine farmers who will benefit from the Federal Government subsidized, certified quality seeds and agro inputs such as fertilizers, micronutrients, herbicides and pesticides.
He expressed optimism that the solar cell production plant started by the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) in Gora, Nasarawa State would be completed to serve as feeder to power water pumps for irrigation farming across the state.
Senator Kyari equally challenged Governor Sule to become the champion of mechanized agriculture in the country considering his background as an engineer.
The minister used the opportunity of the visit to also congratulate Governor Sule on his recent victory at the supreme court, which he said laid to final rest all the legal challenges to the validity of the Governor’s reelection by the majority of lawful votes cast in Nasarawa State during the 2023 general elections.