James Emejo in Abuja
Determined to boost food security in the country and create jobs, the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) said it has improved the capacity of over 100 rice farmers in Niger State in the area of irrigation farming.
The NALDA state coordinator, Mr. Aminu Umaru, during a tour of the 417 hectares of land acquired by local farmers for the irrigation farming in Paikoro Local Government Area of the state, pointed out that the farmers were specifically exposed to irrigation rice farming and upland rice farming in order to harness the potentials of the River Kaduna as well as improve the income of the indigent community, which was restricted to fishing alone before the intervention if the authority in January.
The initiative was part of efforts by the authority to strengthen President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to make the country food sufficient as well as create jobs for the teeming youth population through agriculture.
It further signals the flag off of the NALDA dry season farming in five states of the federation including Adamawa, Yobe, Bauchi, Taraba and Niger.
Umaru pointed out that with NALDA’s presence in the community, many young farmers have indicated interest to be trained in rice planting and the handling of farm tools and equipment which was solely provided to assist the farmers.
He said: “Over 10 pumping machines two tractors, 50 planters, sprayers, transplanters, seedlings, gloves and other farming tools have already been provided, while about 10 women from the community were also trained in the programme.”
He noted that over 70 hectares of land also been ploughed with rice nursery already in place adding that transplanting of the irrigation rice from the nursery will soon begin.
The NALDA coordinator also said the dam used for the rice irrigation farming was made possible through the abandoned water dam embarked upon by the River Basin Authority years ago, assuring that the programme will be sustained even after the irrigation farming.
The state coordinator reiterated that farmers were not asked to pay money before the training or after the training and that NALDA would recoup all expenses spent during the farming season and further promised to provide available markets for the produce when harvested.
One of the beneficiaries of the irigation programme, Salisu Noma, they had been ignorant of the river, adding that with the coming of NALDA, they are now better educated on the busines opportunities in rice farming.