The National Agricultural Land Development Authority, NALDA, weekend, presented a scorecard of achievements after one year of revival on June 1, 2020, by President Muhammadu Buhari, after it was scrapped 20 years ago.
Presenting a litany of achievements within the period by the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer, NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne, at the headquarters of the agency, showed that the resolve for results acting according to the mandate given by Buhari to ensure NALDA takes its pride of place and its lost glory restored as far as food production, agribusiness and job creation is concerned made it possible for the achievements across the country.
Ikonne said the vision was clear and got serious backing by Mr. President’s directive on recovery of NALDA abandoned farm estates across the country, “We embarked on this vigorously and as at today, we have identified and recovered NALDA farm estates that were abandoned in the last 20 years in Katsina, Ekiti, Gombe, Borno, Adamawa, Taraba, Niger, Kebbi, Oyo, Imo, Lagos, Delta, Bauchi, Yobe, Kaduna, Benue, Kogi, Osun, Anambra, Akwa Ibom and Abia States. “We have started reactivating them in phases.”
According to him, animal husbandry programme, which included rabbittry and goat rearing in some pilot states have recorded huge success, which over 30, 000 liters of rabbit urine and 1,000kg of rabbit droppings have been harvested, and are being “used as fertilizer having subjected it to lab analysis and the rabbit farmers are making income from this.”
However, the NALDA boss said there were challenges but not to stop from the vision and mandate of NALDA, and that the challenges have made the agency to improve what it is out to achieve, and according to him the agency has not encountered anything like insecurity challenge since it has been going from state to state in the country.
He said: “On the 1st of June 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari resuscitated NALDA and domiciled it under his supervision as contained in the Act that establishes NALDA and appointed my humble self as Executive Secretary/CEO with a clear directive to achieve NALDA’s mandate as contained in the Act.
“With this directive in mind, we were determined to achieve Mr. President’s directive, so we reached out to Nigerians to volunteer and we got thousands of volunteers out of which we chose few to coordinate the activities of NALDA in various States while some staff were posted to us from Ministries and other Government agencies.
“You will recall that in our first press briefing we announced our animal husbandry programme, which included rabbittry and goat rearing in some pilot states. This program is a huge success as we have harvested over 30,000 litres of rabbit urine and 1,000kg of rabbit droppings, which are being used as fertilizer having subjected it to lab analysis and the rabbit farmers are making income from this.
“After Mr. President’s directive on recovery of NALDA abandoned farm estates across the country, we embarked on this vigorously and as at today, we have identified and recovered NALDA farm estates in the following States; Gombe, Borno, Adamawa, Taraba, Niger, Kebbi, Oyo, Imo, Katsina, Lagos, Ekiti, Delta, Bauchi, Yobe, Kaduna, Benue, Kogi, Osun, Anambra, Akwa Ibom and Abia States. We have started reactivating them in phases.
“NALDA engaged in dry season farming of rice in some pilot States of Adamawa, Niger, Yobe, Taraba and Bauchi. Farmers were trained on dry season farming of which they were not used to and we are expecting harvest in the coming weeks. NALDA provided all the farmers required for farming ranging from tractors, boreholes, pumping machines, planters and trans-planters, fertilizer and seeds.
“In order to achieve food security under the National Young Farmers’ Scheme (NYFS), which Mr. President launched in November 2020, NALDA introduced the training and empowering of young graduates through the initiative of Soil Doctors and Extension Service Providers.
“You will recall that I briefed the Press that NALDA was going to train and empower 30,000 soil Doctors. This program had since commenced and over 500 Soil Doctors have been trained in Borno and Jigawa States.
“The essence of this is to equip young graduates with agriculture or science backgrounds with the knowledge of extension services, which include soil testing and analysis and they are being given soil-testing kits in order for them to earn a living while ensuring our farmers are being equipped with best agricultural practices for greater output. This program is in partnership with the State Governments.
“In line with NALDA’s mandate of achieving food security, we have embarked on establishing fish villages to engage rural women in fish production and packaging in some pilot States: Borno and Abia states.
“In Borno, we have started construction of the fish villages in 10 locations out of the 50 locations provided by the Borno State Government to engage 2,200 women. While in Abia the fish village in one location is 40% completed.”
He also said that NALDA is in partnership with some State governments to reactivate abandoned State-owned farm estates.
“In Imo, we have started the reconstruction and reactivation of the abandoned Acharaugo farm estate, which comprises of 20 poultry pens, goat pens, crop farming areas and feed mill and is expected to be completed by August while in Ebonyi State, we are in the process of reactivating the hatchery farm in Nkaliki.
Meanwhile, he disclosed that NALDA has initiated a programme called NALDA Integrated Farms which will have poultry pens, goat pens, rabbit pens, fish ponds, crop farming areas, processing and packaging plants, storage, clinics, residential area, school, training centres as well as an administrative facility are to be established in the 109 Senatorial Districts across the country.
“We have reached out to the leadership of the Senate for Senators to facilitate land donation with the State governments. This program is under the NYFS and each integrated farm is expected to engage at least 1,500 farmers in order to reduce unemployment and improve food security. The integrated farm estate will have poultry pens, goat pens, rabbit pens, fish ponds, crop farming areas, processing and packaging plants, storage, clinics, residential area, school, training centres as well as an administrative facility.
“The project has since started in Ogun, Anambra, Ekiti and Ebonyi States with land clearing ongoing while in Katsina and Borno States the project is 80% and 30% to completion, respectively. This is the prototype of the project to be replicated in 109 Senatorial districts, subject to availability of land.
He also assured that, “NALDA is prepared for the wet season farming across the country on the recovered NALDA farm estates. The State coordinators where the wet season farming will take place have been fully briefed and are prepared, as we have received more land donations from Communities in Akwa Ibom, Cross River Yobe, and Adamawa States, among others.
“All these achievements were made possible by President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to achieve food security and create employment opportunities in Nigeria.
He also explained that with NALDA’s integrated farm estates in 109 senatorial districts in the country there will be not only achievement of food security, but will reduce unemployment drastically.
He stressed that, “The benefit of engaging our rural women into fish farming and production is not only for local consumption but also for export in order to earn foreign currency.
“In addition, the beauty of the rabbit-rearing programme is in the harvesting of the rabbit waste (urine and droppings) which we have subjected to test, and are sources of an organic fertilizer due to its richness in nitrogen, and we are using it already in the farms. This will help us to grow organic food, which is healthier for human consumption and our aim is to export the organic fertilizer.
He also expressed optimism and hoped that, “As we look forward to fruitful year in this 2021, I assure you that Mr. President’s mandate to NALDA under his supervision will be achieved.”