George Okoh In Makurdi
Benue state government has promised to partner the Department For International Development (DFID) to boost agriculture.
Making the disclosure while receiving DFID’s country director of Business Innovation Facility, Dr. Bala Magaji, at the Benue People’s House, Governor Samuel Ortom said agriculture has the capacity to take the place of oil.
He said Nigeria should develop agriculture since oil production in the Niger Delta region is faced with the problem of security. He assured DFID that Benue state would look into the issue of the provision of warehouses and other facilities as the organisation establishes demonstration farms that would help farmers to have better yields.
The governor directed commissioners for finance, commerce and agriculture to discuss with DFID representatives various ways of making the organisation’s agricultural programme to have more impact and expressed his administration’s commitment to the diversification of the economy.
Earlier, DFID’s country director of Business Innovation Facility, Dr. Bala Magaji, had told Ortom that each of the organisation’s demonstration farms in Guma engaged 20 to 25 farmers and added that two to three tons of crop yields were recorded per hectare of land.
Magaji further stated that the project would need intervention in the areas of post harvest losses, value addition, farmers access to facilities and production processes and requested the governor to assist in removing the constraints.
He equally spoke on the need for a private sector seed development company to be involved in the agricultural project and expressed the organisation’s intention to scale up the demonstration farms that would be for all seasons.
He said farmers may have the problem of multiple taxation and disclosed that DFID Business Innovation has the capacity to establish a poultry farm with a capacity of 650,000 birds that would need a feed mill.
Magaji suggested that government should develop an agricultural media policy and regretted that financial houses see the granting of facilities to farmers as a risk.