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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Niger Govt. ready for dry season farming, mobilises 250,000 farmers – Commissioner

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Alhaji Musa Bosso, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development in Niger, says the state government would mobilise 250,000 farmers to engage in mechanized agriculture during the upcoming dry season.

Bosso made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Minna.

He said this would be done under the government policy of allocating 10,000 hectares of land to farmers in each of the 25 local government areas of the state for wet and dry season farming.

“This is another way of increasing food production, creating jobs and wealth among our people, which will also ensure food security for the state and the nation,” he added.

According to him, the ministry is ready for the upcoming dry season farming, adding that they have been selling improved seeds, pesticides, herbicides and fertiliser to farmers.

He added that officials of the ministry would undertake assessment visits to the 19 irrigation schemes across the state to ensure their conditions and  readiness for the season.

“We are ready for the 2023 dry season farming activities because the inputs and implements we started distributing early this year for wet season farming to our farmers across the 25 Local Government Areas at subsidised rates is still ongoing.

“The ministry is also planning to visit our 19 irrigation schemes across the state to know their condition and possibly rehabilitate ailing ones,” he said.

Bosso also said the government plans to utilise water from Kainji, Shiroro, Jebba and Zungeru hydro dams for dry season farming.

On the challenge of post-harvest losses, the Commissioner said that the state has about 50 warehouses and five silos to preserve farm produce.

“We intend to refurbish our dilapidated warehouses and silos to help us save enough farm produce because we expect bumper harvest this year.

“In 2021 the state government rehabilitated some of these facilities. As I speak to you now some are under lease to private companies.”

Bosso added that the ministry had made a proposal for a buffer stock; an arrangement that will enable government to purchase excess farm produce from farmers, store them and sell or distribute to the public when the need arises.

The Commissioner said the government is also working with the Federal Government/International Fund for Agricultural Development Value Chain Development Programme (IFAD-VCDP), the Feed the Future project and others to enhance agricultural activities in the state.

He added that the government plans to establish Sesame seed processing plants in Minna and Lapai areas of the state.

Meanwhile, Alhaji Abdulrahman Yusuf, Vice Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in the state, said over 1.6 million members of the association have started preparations for irrigation farming as the dry season sets in.

“We are anxiously waiting for the intervention promised by the Federal Government for wheat, rice and maize farmers for this year’s dry season.”

He confirmed that the state government has started allocating 10,000 hectares of land to farmers in each of the 25 local government areas, which would be utilized by 250,000 members of AFAN.

The AFAN Vice Chairman, however, called on the state government to fulfil its promise of providing 360 water pumping machines to irrigation farmers, and the rehabilitation of ailing irrigation facilities in the state. (NAN)

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