By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed National Land Development Authority (NALDA) to establish integrated farm estates in all the senatorial districts to boost food production across the country.
Executive Secretary of the agency, Mr Paul Ikonne, who disclosed this to State House correspondents on Sunday, said that the directive was part of the outcome of his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.
According to him, the president has inaugurated one of such integrated farms in Daura, Katsina, adding that NALDA is poised to accomplish the remaining 108 farms, in line with the presidential directive.
He said that the aim was to ensure that the giant strides already made in agriculture under the current administration were sustained.
The NALDA boss, therefore, urged state governments to partner with NALDA to achieve the goal by donating land for the integrated farms in their respective domains.
H expressed the hope that the scheme would help the country generate more employment and attain food security.
“The president gave the directive that we must make agriculture attractive to young Nigerians so that they will be engaged.
“I am glad to inform you that the directive has not been taken kindly. That is why we are not sleeping because when the President speaks, it is a command.
“We can’t wait when we have such a command from the president, knowing full well that agriculture is his heartbeat and he wants to achieve food security.
“If not because of his proactive nature towards farming, COVID-19 would have knocked everybody out. Having been locked up in a room or house for one year, nobody went to farm because of the pandemic.
“However, due to the proactive action he took before COVID-19 came, there was enough food for Nigerians to eat,” he said.
Ikonne added that the president had directed NALDA to put up the integrated farm estates in the remaining 108 senatorial districts.
“For those states that have made lands available, they can as well testify that no time is being wasted because we have swung into action.
“So, I call on other governors to key into the president’s desire and make lands available for these farm estates to be established.
“This will take away youths from unemployment market and we will be able to achieve food security within a very short period,” he added.
According to him, the recent presidential inauguration of Daura Integrated Farm Estate, with the capacity to engage 1,500 young farmers, was an eye opener to Nigerians regarding Buhari’s passion of achieving food security in the country.
He said that arrangements were already on by NALDA to put up processing centres in all the farm estates, to discourage importation of finished products.
“What the president is doing and the foundation he is laying in agriculture are what Nigerians will live to remember him for.
“No other government has done as much as the president has done in agriculture and that is why Nigeria is getting close to sustaining food sufficiency.
“In all our farm estates, finished products are our target so that Nigeria will cut the chain of exporting raw materials and later buy them because most of our agricultural products are purely raw materials like ginger, garlic and onions.
“So we are putting up processing centres in all our farm estates in order to create more job opportunities for us.” (NAN)