By Adedayo Akinwale
The Presidency has revealed that the federal government plans to engage 77,400 young farmers from all the 774 local governments across the country in different farming activities.
It said that the programme, which would commence with a pilot number of 100 per local government, would be implemented in partnership with the 36 state governors for provision or donation of land.
The Executive Secretary of National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA), Prince Paul Ikonne, disclosed this on Monday at the maiden media press briefing, where he revealed that the organisation was established in 1992 but ceased to function in 2000.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari, having given the marching orders when he said: “We must produce what we have to eat”, NALDA as an authority under the Presidency has come up with programmes in order to meet the president’s directive.
Ikonne stressed that NALDA’s short-term programmes included providing farm inputs such as improved seeds, fertilizers, machinery, environmentally friendly crop protection agents, growth enhancers and trainings which would be given to the already existing farmers, adding that this would assist them during the current farming season in order to improve their yield.
He stated: “Buhari Young Farmers Network; with this initiative, we intend to have 77,400 young farmers injected into Nigerian farming business across the nation in different farming activities ranging from crop farming to animal husbandry.
“These young farmers will be drawn from the 774 local governments, with a pilot number of 100 per local government. In this initiative, we will partner with governors for provision or donation of land and other stakeholders as this will create employment and food production will be increased.”
Ikonne added that NALDA would also use the “Back to Farm” programme to encourage everyone to go back to farm by reaching out to the military and paramilitary organisations, National Assembly members, civil and public servants, journalists, corporate bodies, religious organizations and individuals.
“These three programmes are our starting point in order to meet the immediate mandate of Mr. President for providing food for all and we intend to achieve this within the next six months to achieve,” he added.
The Executive Secretary noted that NALDA’s mandate is to make agriculture a business and a source of wealth creation for the country, adding that this would be achieved by increasing palm oil and soya beans production for export, among others.