By Laleye Dipo in Minna
The Niger State government has boosted the 2018 farming season with the release of 130 tractors, 15,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser and 50 units of rice threshers.
The tractors were purchased at N2.2 billion and would be distributed to “genuine farmers” at 25 per cent subsidy.
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, who flagged off the farming season in MinnaÂ on Tuesday, said each 50kg bag of the NPK brand of fertiliser would be sold at N5,500, while the 50 units of rice threshers would be given free to recognised rice farmers’ cooperative societies and unions in the three senatorial districts “to reduce post harvest loss in rice production”.
The governor did not say how much it cost the government to purchase the fertiliser but said it was bought in collaboration with Tak Fertiliser company.
He said: “In our effort to curb the activities of middlemen that usually take undue advantage of our farmers by selling above government pegged prices, we decided that farmers should pay direct to specified bank accounts and present the bank teller at designated stores to collect the quantity of fertiliser paid for.
“I also appeal to our farmers to conduct themselves in orderly manner during the exercise so that miscreants would not create chaos at point of sales and to shun intermediaries that would use them to purchase the fertiliser at the controlled price which they may later sell at higher rates.”
Governor Bello disclosed that for the administration to consolidate on the modest achievements in the provision of timely agricultural inputs, government had begun the construction and rehabilitation of rural roads, saying that 200 kilometers of feeder roads were rehabilitated last year, while 400km of the same type of road would be rehabilitated this year.
He attributed the success recorded in the rural road rehabilitation to the ability of the government to pay its counterpart funds promptly.
The governor also said that the administration had in the last three years developed a road map for “taking advantage of our potentials in areas of grains reserves, ranching, animal husbandry fisheries and development of economic trees” adding that 5,000 hectares of land had been cleared in various locations in the state to encourage youths to embrace farming.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Alhaji Haruna Dukku, in an address, said government intervention was to reduce drudgery in agricultural production and also ease farm cultivation in the state.