In line with the federal government’s policies and programmes to enhance food sufficiency, the Taraba State has keyed into the policy in order to boost food production in the state.writes SAM TYAV.
IT IS COMMON knowledge to stakeholders that the Nigeria is need of food security. The essence is for the Nigerian farmers to move from subsistence farming to large scale farming. The primary aim is to ensure availability of good for the Nigerian populace. Armed with this desire the federal government has continued to invest heavily in agriculture. Genuine farmers have at several instances been given funds to cultivate food crops. The federal government through Agricultural Development Banks among other banks has continued to provide funds to farmers. In addition to the provision of funds, the government has also been providing incentives to farmers to enable them have more interest in farming. The use of pesticides and storage facilities among other things have been promoted by the government. Though the federal government was reported to have stopped procurement of fertilizer to farmers, the various state governments on their parts have continued to procure assorted fertilizers and sell to their farmers at subsidised rates. The reason has been to encourage farmers to cultivate food crops for the consumption of Nigerians. It is equally on record that the state governments have not stopped at that level but has gone ahead to establish tractor hiring agencies in their states. This is for the purpose of mechanised farming. Obviously with mechanised farming, a farmer could cultivate what several farmers put together cannot do. Most farmers in the states have benefitted from the state government gesture. Again the state agricultural and rural develoment authorities have in various ways continued to improve the available crops for better yields, which also aims at food security in the country. Some state governments have also gone into partnership with agricultural bodies to assist farmers in the production of food crops. Some international organisations are known in this category. This has continued to help in no small measure in the achievement of food sufficiency in the country. It is indisputable that Taraba state, like other states of the federation is deeply involved in food crops production. A good percentage of the people of Taraba are farmers. Even with the crisis that has enveloped the state in recent time, those who were not displaced by the crisis have done and are still doing their best in the cultivation of food crops in the state. Interestingly, it is part of this genuine desire to support farmers that the Taraba state government has gone into partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD to boost rice and cassava production, processing and marketing in the state. Permanent Secretary, Taraba State Ministry of Agriculture Mr Isaac Mella disclosed this at a meeting with representatives of the joint Federal Government and IFAD in Jalingo a couple of days ago. Mella said the state government through the Ministry of Agriculture had paid counterpart fund of N37 million to enable its farmers access the FG/IFAD assisted value chain development programme toimprove their living conditions. He also believed that the funds would ensure availability of food in the state and the country at large. Mella who appreciated the federal government said the federal government and IFAD have nursed wonderful iniative by giving expertise and material assistance to farmers. “Let me equally commend the state government for promptly paying the N37 million counterpart fund to boost rice and cassava production, processing and marketing in the state,” Mr Rab Nawaz, the team leader of the joint implementation support mission said the visit was to help the state government move forward in its quest to boost its economy through agriculture, noting that the programme which was basically aimed at improving the income of rice and cassava farmer organisations was performance based even as it was capable of providing enough food for the entire Nigerians. The programme, he explained was a five year project which was currently going on in six states of the federation, saying funds would be given to states that are more successful in the implementation. In Taraba State, Nawaz said the programme was going on in Gassol, Wukari and Karim-Lamido local government areas of the state would be expanded to other local government areas depending on how well the handlers use the funds so far released and lauded the state government for paying the counterpart funds for thebenefit of its rice and cassava farmers. The team, for the purpose of certainty and avoidance of mismanagement of funds, also embarked on an inspection visit to demonstration rice and cassava farms done by Taraba Agricultural Development Programme, TADP in Gassol. Nigerian Pilot learnt that the team also met with groups of farmer organisations in the field and assured them of continued assistance to enable them improve their standard of living and boost the states economy. It is beyond reasonable doubt that the production of rice and cassava would not only improve the economy of the farmers in the state but also account for food sufficiency. There is no point emphasising the fact that prominent Nigerian farmers are well to do. This is because their farm produce is always capable of changing their story. Going by the expectation of the federal government, if all Nigerians had complied by investing in farming even as the federal government was always coming out with favourable agricultural policies, the burning desire of the government for food security would have long been history. But it is quite unfortunate that some areas in the country still need some level of advocacy. It is equally believed that food sufficiency which is the desire of the federal government would be attained if all farmers in Nigeria choose to invest in agriculture.