Mohammed Aminu in Sokoto
Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, has said plans were underway to establish commodity marketing board to ease the burden of farmers in the state. He also said no fewer than 1,000 hand tillers would soon be distributed to farmers across the 23 local government areas of the state.
Speaking at a one-day Stakeholders’ Forum organised by the State Technical Committee on Immediate Framework for Agricultural Development at the State Polytechnic, Sokoto, Tambuwal said the Board would purchase excess farm produce from farmers, adding that it would be used in stabilising prices of commodities in times of need.
He said this would go a long way in mitigating losses witnessed by farmers at the end of harvest.
“The establishment of the commodity board will reduce excesses and wastages being suffered by farmers which ultimately affects their overall income. This is to enable them get value for their investments and to encourage more people to engage in farming to produce food for local consumption and export,” Tambuwal said.
The governor noted that the state is blessed with arable land for massive food production, pointing out that about 80 per cent of the population live in rural areas and depend on farming for livelihood.
He stated that the essence of the forum was to deliberate with stakeholders with a view to charting a road map for the revival of agriculture as a reliable business in the state.
Tambuwal posited that it was in view of the emphasis laid by his administration on agriculture that the government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Erisco Food Limited for the establishment of a tomato processing factory in the state.
According to him, the tomato processing factory is expected to process 45,000 metric tonnes of tomato paste per week and expected to take off in two months.
Tambuwal said the distribution of the hand tillers which had since been bought by the state government was part of efforts to mechanise agriculture in the state, adding that the state government would also reinvigorate the Tractor Hiring Scheme in partnership with some agricultural firms in the country.
He disclosed that his administration was currently working in consultation with stakeholders to address the fundamental problems of access to financial support and technical assistance to farmers in the state.
In a remark, Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, said the era of depending on oil revenue was over; hence the need for governments particularly in the North to give priority to agriculture to improve their economy. He challenged farmers in the state to give emphasis on cultivation of cash crops such as cotton so as to earn huge income.
The monarch said traditional leaders in the state would give the necessary support required to ensure the attainment of the set objectives.
The Chairman, State Committee for the Revitalisation of Agriculture, Alhaji Chiso Dattijo, said the stakeholders meeting was timely, as it would bring to the fore issues and problems of production, processing and breakdown of linkages between stakeholders that overtime affected the derivable benefits from agriculture.
Also speaking, the state Chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Alhaji Murtala Gagadu Minanata, expressed optimism that the initiative of the present administration was a step in the right direction aimed at revamping agriculture in the state.