Governor Bello’s Agricultural Policy: An Economy Booster
“I see myself as a Change-agent whose primary mission is to chart an effective and sustainable development path for Niger State by implementing sound socio-economic projects that will put food on the table and smiles on the faces of Nigerlites, especially our teeming Youth” Governor Abubakar Sani Bello.
Agriculture is known to be the backbone of economic prosperity of several nations as it occupies a strategic position in the social economic developmental agenda. No doubt agriculture plays an important role in the economic life of a nation’s citizenry.
It is responsible for the production of food crops in varieties which plays important roles in the functionality of the citizens through the provision of mineral resources such as vitamins and carbohydrate which is responsible for both the mental and physical welling of the people. It also opens up economic opportunity via the provision of cash crops which generates income for the individual as well as the nation.
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello’s positive disposition to the agricultural sector through his policy statement may be because of the obvious fact that Niger State is blessed with abundant arable land for Agriculture production. If Governor Bello’s led administration decides to invest heavily in the Agricultural sector, Nigerlites would smile because, an investment in agriculture is an investment for the masses because they are the direct beneficiaries since most are into farming. Such an investment would also boost the revenue of the state thereby reducing over dependency on oil revenue and it would also lead to industrial revolution in the state. Private individuals would be encouraged to invest in agro enterprises which would to creation of wealth and employment.
Undoubtedly, Alhaji Bello took over the mantle of leadership as the Governor of Niger State at a time when virtually all Sectors in the State are facing grave challenges. Since the inception of Governor Bello’s administration on 29th May, 2015, the Agricultural Sector has recorded and still recording tremendous successes including but not limited to; Distribution of grains by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of 58mt stock of grains at the inception of the present administration. The grains were distributed to the public at subsidy immediately before the 2015 Ramadan Fast. The distribution assisted members of the public especially the less privileged in the state. The State Government approved the purchase and distribution of 20,000 metric tons of assorted fertilizers to 164,000 farmers in the 274 wards of Niger State and to offer large and medium scale farmers in the state. A six hundred small-scale farm in each of the 274 wards are entitled to purchase 2 bags of NPK or Urea fertilizer at 2,850 naira per 50kg bag at 50% subsidy. The State Government shouldered the cost of 50% subsidy which translates to One Billion, One Hundred and Forty Naira.
Agriculture occupies a very important place in the development of an economy. The Niger State Agricultural and Mechanization Development Authority, NAMDA, hitherto called Niger State Agricultural Development Project, NSADP, is an extension arm of Niger State Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to implement government’s agricultural policy decisions with goals of enhancing the living standard of farmers through increase agricultural productivity by provision of basic agricultural infrastructures development and distribution of improved planting materials, provision of agricultural research and extension services, monitoring and evaluating the impact of the project activities and capacity building of rural institutions through linkage to credit intuitions, farm input supply and agricultural markets.
NAMDA’s broad objective is to improve farmers’ productivity thereby increasing their income and standard of living. Its specific objectives include among others; to strengthen agricultural services, improve the access and maintenance of supporting rural infrastructures, to strengthen supporting commercial services thereby ensuring supply of agricultural inputs as well as strengthening the capacity for policy formulation, planning and expenditure programming in the state Ministry of Agriculture.
NAMDA’s major services to farmers in Niger State are incredible, ranging from provision of extension services to conduction of On-Farm adaptive research. NAMDA also ensured gender equality through the Women in Agriculture development and Human Nutrition activities. The Services can be seen in the Improvement of animal health services through provision of livestock and veterinary inputs and services, provision of agro-forestry and erosion control services to deal with the serious risk of environmental degradation, development and management of seed multiplication farms. In the same vein, the Farmers are trained to use animal-drawn implements to reduce drudgery of farming, provision of field farm services centers and stores, cooperative and credit promotion as well as construction of feeder roads and irrigation schemes associated with agricultural development.
Another very impressive feat in the Agricultural Sector is the readiness of Governor Bello to utilize the 7,500 hectares of Rice Farm at Saminaka, Borgu Local Government Area of Niger North Senatorial District that will provide 4,000 Jobs for Nigerlites. Facts about the farm says, the farm land was in the process of being leased to the Indian Farmers by Upper River Basin for 10years, each hectare will yield 6 tons instead of 1 ton that farmers harvest in the state, already 500 hectares is being used to test seeds that will give a bigger and better harvest and already, 50 Nigerlites have directly been employed. This is one sure way of opening the state to economic opportunities. The governor’s initiatives are noble they however must be guarded with passion to ensure it survives.