Despite Boko Haram, Borno Light-years Ahead in Agricultural Innovation
The Borno State Commissioner of Agriculture, Mohammed Dili has said that despite the insurgency which ravaged the State, it is still light years ahead in agricultural innovation, compared to other states which have enjoyed relative peace in the 9-year period.
Dili who took TheBrief on a tour round various Agricultural facilities in the state, maintained that Borno is more than ready to contribute its quota to the federation's account, as soon as normalcy returns to the Home of Peace.
During a tour of the State's Agricultural Mechanization Authority, the Minister showed off world-class agricultural machinery, cutting-edge crop production schemes, and the State's efforts to restore locals, primarily farmers, to a normal pace of life even while in Internally Displaced Persons', IDP, camps.
With over 1000 tractors, 600 multiple-crop planters, 25 crop harvesters, 600 rice millers (including those for cottage farming), and the biggest seedling production factory in Africa, Borno boasts machinery unrivalled throughout Nigeria, according to Dili.
Some of the tractors and crop planters in the Agriculture Development Centre in Maiduguri
More Rice Millers, Dr. Dili said when Boko Haram Occupied the Center, in Maiduguri, they had tried to sell some of them, but failed.
Rice miller for cottage farming, in Maiduguri
30 rice threshers manufactured by students of the University of Maiduguri are also part of the project.
Rice threshers constructed by students of the University of Maiduguri
The State, with its recently installed greenhouse, is primed to produce 12 million seedlings every month, for early market according to the Engineer in charge of the Seed Multiplication System, department, Ibrahim Aleh.
The greenhouses all locally made, including the spraying mechanisms, are all built and assembled in the Agriculture Development Center workshop, by locals, serving as the supply chain for farming across the state and even for neighbouring states.
The Greenhouse where the seed multiplication is carried out.
Some of the seedlings from the Borno State Seed Multiplication Project in Maiduguri
Materials produced from the workshop are used to test the various types of irrigation systems required by the different vegetation types the state has (Sudan savannah and southern Sahel and the Desert).
The Tube-making machine used to produce tubes used in the Drip Irrigation System.
The Drip Irrigation System, has already proven to be effective, with the cultivation of sweet melon, okra, water melon, tomatoes, sweet pepper and ground-nuts, providing just the right amount of water needed by the crops, and eliminating waste.
The Control Centre for the Central Pivot System
The Centre Pivot System in Alau, Along Maiduguri Road, Borno State.
A nozzle used for spraying of water, fertiliser and herbicides on the crops in the Centre Pivot System
Watermelon ready for harvest in Alau, along Maiduguri Road in Borno State
In the far-flung areas of Alau in Konduga Local Government Area which TheBrief visited, an intimidating agricultural masterpiece basks in the blazing sun fully functional, with 4 massive Centre Pivot Irrigation systems of two 60 hectares and another two 35 hectares of farmlands.
The 1st stage of the Agricultural rejuvenation of Borno, has already produced a bountiful harvest of Irish potatoes, with its first ever cultivation on the N/Eastern state's soil. Producing about 140 50Kg bags in total, the system has proven to be a success, even at this test stage.
With N20bn spent so far on equipment and on other aspects of the scheme, the state's efforts have remained unknown to the world, besides the handful of persons directly involved.
Dili remarked that for fear of sabotage, from the previous administration, the state opted to keep its exploits secret, but is now ready to open it to the world, to attract patronage.
According to the state government, as IDPs return to their homes, a small plantation of mango trees, poultry, mobile ponds and oil mills will be donated to 100-200 women from the beginning.
The proceeds from their farms will be bought by the government, to be used in the school feeding programme.
With the next stage of the all year farming scheme set to commence next month, Borno is becoming an agricultural force to be reckoned with again.
IDPs from nearby camps in Maiduguri, have already been trained and employed to work on the farms, with a couple of seasoned farmers among them owning farms in the area where the equipment are currently being used, allowing them to benefit directly from the scheme.
Women and children have been employed to plant cashew trees, and are paid per output. (The going rate is, N300 for every 25 seedlings tended to).
Although Boko Haram still remains a thorn in the flesh that orchestrates attacks, Borno's prospects are bright.
Its plans of returning all those affected by the scourge of insurgency back to their homes and equipped with a viable means of livelihood is quite the site. A step in the right direction, The Home of Peace is ready to embrace and live up to its slogan.