Gombe state Governor, Inuwa Yahaya with the Executive Secretary of NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne during the Groundbreaking Ceremony of 2021 Dry Season Wheat Production’ in Gombe State.
With a resolve to reduce unemployment among Nigerian youths through modern agriculture and agribusiness, the National Agricultural Lands Development Authority, NALDA, Monday, engaged 400 youths in Gombe State in wheat production.
This was done by the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer, NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne, at the ‘Groundbreaking Ceremony of 2021 Dry Season Wheat Production’ at the wheat production site in Dogon Ruwa community of Kaltungo Local Government Area of Gombe State.
Ikonne in his address explained why youths are paramount in the heart of President Muhammadu Buhari in terms of employment and engaging them in lucrative ventures such as wheat production, following the dear need of the commodity in Nigeria as there is inadequate production of the commodity compared to its demand.
He further stated why the groundbreaking ceremony was done in Gombe, which according to him the environment is naturally good for the cultivation of the crop including processing and packaging.
He said: “We are here in Gombe State based on the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari, have mandated NALDA to achieve food security and to have job opportunities for our teeming youths through viable agricultural value chains.
“And now we will be encouraging farmers to go into wheat production in order to begin to earn a living income from wheat production, and that will help us reduce the volume we import and begin to consume what we produce on the mandate and directives of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Our wheat consumption is more than 6 million metric tonnes annually, and we are producing like 1.1 per cent of what we consume. Gombe has been positioned by your natural nature as the potentials and as one of the States that would be producing wheat in Nigeria.
Ikonne sought additional land donations in the state to engage more youths.
He stressed that the community that provided the land will be the immediate beneficiaries, as NALDA will provide them with herbicides, pesticides, pumping machines, seeds and technical support.
“This 100 hectares here will engage 200 youths, the other 100 hectares in Nafada will also engage additional 200 youths. So a total of 400 youths will be engaged in this season of wheat production in Gombe State.
“And NALDA will engage more youths among farmers if you provide more land. Seeing you as an agric-friendly Governor, Your Excellency, NALDA is positioned to partner with you. We are willing and ready to go all out to engage your youths as directed by Mr President.”
Plan to establish integrated farm estate
The NALDA boss also disclosed plans to establish an Integrated Farm Estate, where he added that the NALDA will provide a market called ‘NALDA’s Market for Vegetables’ with state of the art facility for farmers to prevent post-harvest losses following the perishable nature of vegetables.
“We enjoin you to also make yourself available as we lay the foundation by the end of this month.
“Having provided us with the enabling environment in the State, NALDA will be providing farmers with what we call ‘NALDA’s Market’ for vegetables, which you have provided us with a land that project will be completed before the end of February 2022.
Ikonne further thank the Governor of Gombe State for his commitment towards achieving the President’s vision of achieving food security, engaging youths and reducing unemployment in the country.
He also called on investors to key into the wheat value chain for more profit and to reduce heavy dependence on importation of the commodity, which high foreign exchange leaves the country.
“I use this opportunity to call on investors to begin to invest in wheat production as money is being made available NALDA will be positioning itself in providing water infrastructure in assisting in irrigation system as we go into massive wheat production in the country”, he said.
He also commended the Gombe State Commissioner for Agriculture and the entire NALDA management team in Gombe State, following the strong partnership.
“This is what integration and cooperation should be. Your support has made this project very smooth for NALDA. I used this to challenge other states going forward that partnership between Federal Government and State Government is for the benefit of the people to a large extent and the entire country.
Gombe to partner FG in Agricultural Transformation Agenda
Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya says his administration will continue to partner with the Federal Government in its Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) geared towards facilitating the development of various value chains in order to ensure food security and job creation among the teeming populace in the State.
He said the development of these value chains in Rice, Sorghum and Tomatoes among others will help provide employment opportunities to many people, who will serve as service providers, manufacturers, financiers, producers and transporters.
The Governor emphasized that his administration is ready to render all the needed assistance NALDA would need to execute the present and future projects in Gombe State.
He observed that the groundbreaking ceremony forms part of the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and that of the Gombe state government to attract youths and encourage them to see agriculture as a way of life and means of livelihood in order to attain economic prosperity.
Governor Yahaya said the dry season wheat production is in line with the ongoing efforts to bridge the national deficit in wheat production and reduce importation, maintaining that the project which targets 9 states with a land size of about 2,500 hectares is expected to yield about 10,000 metric tons of wheat.
“Gombe State is the only state in the federation that ensured bush clearing, land preparation and wash boreholes for the farmers as a means of subsidy to the loans by NALDA. We are indeed happy and grateful for being part of this national feat”.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya appreciated the laudable projects executed by NALDA in Gombe State which include support for dry season cultivation of wheat on 200 hectares for about 400 farmers at Fafa in Nafada and Dogon Ruwa in Kaltungo Local Governments; Perishable Vegetable Market at Kwadon in Yamaltu/Deba Local Government; support for 250 pepper farmers across the State; support for fishermen at Dadinkowa Dam, and support of 50 farmers at Kumo, Akko Local Government Area.
Reporting by Zaccheaus Babalola; editing by Abdullahi Lamino