The federal government has directed the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) to set up integrated farm estates in all the 109 senatorial districts in the country.
Already, the agency’s Executive Secretary, Mr. Paul Ikonne, has called on 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 youth from unemployment market and engage them with a view to achieving food security in a very short period of time.
The NALDA boss, who made this known at the weekend while speaking with newsmen after a close-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, added that the Kogi State Government had donated 700 hectares of land to NALDA for the integrated land estate, while the 100 hectares of land donated by the Ogun State government has already been cleared.
According to him, the President was committed to and working towards ensuring that the country achieved food security.
His words: “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 purely under the supervision of Mr. President and that is why you can see the progress that we are making. I believe that the commissioning of the Daura Integrated Farm Estate in Katsina State which has the capacity to take in 1500 young farmers, is a stepping stone or an eye opener to 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 people, IDPs, in order to get them reintegrated and get them engaged, thereby providing job opportunity for them.
“As Mr. President is pursuing achieving food security, the same time also creating job opportunity for Nigerians is on the front burner and that is what we are achieving, or we are doing using the NALDA platform.”
He added: “Again, in Kogi State we have gotten land donation from the governor of Kogi State for 700 hectares of land, which the first phase of that project will be commissioned this year. Clearing is about to commence and we believe that the first phase of that project, which will engage over 4000 youths into the entire agricultural process, thereby creating employment and reducing herders/farmers clash.
“That farm in Kogi will go a long way in addressing the issues between herders/farmers because we are going to cluster the herdsmen, provide them with pastures and the facilities they need like water and, and other facilities that will help to support their business in cattle rearing.
“Again, in Ogun State, we have finished land clearing, 100 hectares has been completely cleared and the access road has been provided in that place and that farm will take in 2500 youths. The President gave directives that we must make agriculture attractive to young Nigerians so that they will be engaged and I’m glad to inform us that that directive is not being taken with levity, that’s why we’re not sleeping 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 fish village to engage women again n 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 out of this country and at the same time you buy them because most of agricultural produce are purely raw materials, like ginger, garlic, onions and all that, they export it and then they process and come back.
“So, we are putting up processing centres in all our farm centres in order to create more job opportunities for us.”
He said Nigerians would live to remember the foundation President Buhari was laying on achieving food sufficiency.
According to him, “What the President is doing, the foundation he’s laying in agriculture, is what Nigerians would live to remember him for. No other government, no other government, I repeat, has done as much as Mr. President has done in agriculture and that is why Nigeria is coming closer to achieving food sufficiency.
“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 district 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 and we have swung into action. “So, I call on other state governors to key into Mr. President’s desire to make land available for this farm estates to be established, as this will take away youths from unemployment market and engage them and we’ll be able to achieve food security in a very short period of time.”