To boost the Nigerian economy, the Katsina State Governor Dikko Umaru Radda has urged the government at all levels to make agricultural development a priority, adding that it is the only way to boost Nigeria’s economy
Radda made the call on Monday, in Abuja during a courtesy visit to the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, noting that the only way to boost the Nigerian economy is through the holistic development of the agricultural sector.
While buttressing his points, the Governor, who was the former Director General of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), said 85% of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria are within the agricultural value chain.
He added that the agricultural sector is the bedrock of development.
He noted that 90% of the population of Katsina engage in farming, adding that productivity cannot be scaled up unless the quality of seeds and farm practices are improved upon.
Speaking on some of the initiatives taken by his administration to boost food productivity, he revealed that the State Government would soon recruit about 622 extension agents across the State.
He said: “In our strategic policy, we want to revive the extension services in the State. As I speak to you today, we are in the process of recruiting two persons from each ward which will lead to the recruitment of 622 extension officers in the State.
“We will provide them with motorcycles and other apparatus they may need so that they can discharge their responsibilities.
“As I came in, I identified that a lot of initiatives were done by the previous administration.
“They include the establishment of Songhai Farms, and Integrated Farm that was done by National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) in Daura.
“When I visited the farm, I almost shed tears because, it was left to rotten. A lot of things were vandalised and I have written to NALDA so that they can hand-over the Farm to me.
“I will manage it adequately and rehabilitate it. I want to use those Centres to train our youths for three to six months on different aspects of agriculture.
“We will give them starter-packs at the end of the training, so that they can start on their own.”
Speaking on insecurity, the governor said his administration had reduced insecurity by 70 per cent since assumption of office.
While linking redundancy of the youths to the insecurity plaguing the State, he assured that the youths in the State would be gainfully engaged.
According to him, “I think, the insecurity we are having is as a result of redundancy.
“In fact, where we have over 90% of the population as farmers, and they only farm for four months in a year, and do nothing for eight months, it is said that idle mind is the devil’s workshop.
“That is why we came up with an initiative in collaboration with the Local Government Areas to see how we can improve irrigation farming by identifying small irrigation schemes.
“We have started with 2,020 farmers. Solar power, high quality seeds, insecticides were provided for them to help them to scale up production.
“They are in clusters of 10 so that they will be able to work efficiently.”
However, the Governor assured that the State would key-in in all the projects of the Federal Government to realize food security in the country.
Earlier, Senator Abubakar Kyari, said Katsina State is one of the frontline States in the quest to achieve the food security agenda of the Federal Government.
Kyari assured that the Ministry would exceed Mr. President’s target of attaining food security through the cultivation of 500,000 arable land in the country this year.
He stressed the need for collaboration with States across the country, adding that States and Local Government Areas need to develop genuine farmers’ databases for proper planning and distribution of farm inputs to genuine farmers.
He revealed that the Federal Government would soon set up a task-force team to monitor and ensure that the programmes initiated in collaboration with States are well executed and successful.