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Badakoshi: A quite green revolution in Nasarawa

But some wind of change is blowing across the state, trying to turn back the good farm hands who fled. It is some quiet green…

But some wind of change is blowing across the state, trying to turn back the good farm hands who fled. It is some quiet green revolution. It is called Badakoshi Agricultural Scheme.

Badakoshi, Hausa for “to feed well”, is an initiative of Governor Aliyu Akwe Doma which spans five years, beginning 2009 to 2014. If it is faithfully implemented and not abandoned to be cornered by political interests, it will come to stay as the biggest scorecard of the administration, outliving the initiators.

The scheme is aimed at providing the platform for accelerated and coordinated growth in the agricultural sector and to consolidate the state’s position as a leading producer of food in the country. This scheme which Governor Doma declared as a legacy he intends to leave behind, is expected to lead to the attainment of increased agricultural production by at least 70 percent by the year 2014.

The objectives of the scheme, among others, is to stimulate, encourage and mobilize all and sundry to engage in agricultural production as the main economic activity of the people as well as to maximise food sufficiency, create employment opportunities, reduce poverty and create wealth. The scheme seeks also to promote accelerated and focused mass production of food crops, livestock and fish for local and international markets. Particular attention is given to crops for which the state has comparative advantage. Such crops include yams, sesame, maize, rice, sorghum and cassava.

As a policy back-up for the successful implementation of the scheme, all public officers, institutions, including traditional rulers in the state, are encouraged to establish personal and official farms of between 1-5 hectares each.

For the first two years, it has proven the worth of the administration in the hearts of beneficiary farmers. It began with 456 farmers and farmer groups across the state who went home with the N530 million loan secured for them by the state government for various farming projects, but the second edition saw the number increasing to 1,040. N500 million was disbursed to these farmers at an event which attracted the Kaduna State governor, Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Resources, Professor Sheikh Ahmad Abdallah, the Minister of State for Information and Communications, Labaran Maku as well as the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi (UAM), in Benue State, Professor Daniel Vershima Uza. The event took place at Andaha, a sleepy town about 18 kilometres along Akwanga-Jos road in Akwanga Local Government Area.

During the first year’s implementation, 52 tractors out of the 107 procured under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement between the federal and state governments and Afcott Nigeria Limited were distributed to deserving farmers at 40% subsidy, in the ratio of Federal Government 25% and the State Government 15% during the first year of implementation.  

Programme Manager of Badakoshi, Alhaji Umaru Hassan, told Sunday Trust during the first year of implementation that “there is positive response by farmers to meet the governor’s projected output even before the five year period”. The Programme Manager said so far, some of the 456 farmers who accessed the loan have ploughed their monies into the farm for some late crops including sesame, a cash crop which Nasarawa State is a leading producer. Hassan said close monitoring revealed also that some beneficiaries who are into poultry and fish farming stocked up their farms, “and are waiting to reap the benefits soon enough.”

Encouraged by the successes of the scheme during the first year of implementation, the government decided to introduce a booster during the launch of the second edition. Added to monetary loan, it further allocated 100 tractors under the tractor loan component of the scheme; allocated agricultural processing machineries to deserving agro-processors; disbursed Fadama III agricultural grants and allocated vehicles and motorcycles to beneficiaries. The second edition also saw further sales of assorted fertilizer and agro-chemicals for the 2010 cropping season; exhibition and further sales of improved seeds and seedlings, as well as livestock and fishery equipment; exhibition of farm produce by beneficiaries of the scheme;  and the flag-off of livestock vaccination campaign for the 2010 season.

Doma who was flanked by his Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Abubakar Alhaji Ahmed and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Timothy Anjide, said it is not enough to boost farming activities with loans, but the creation for market to end post harvest lost must be added to make the venture worthwhile.

The minister of agriculture, Professor Ahmad Abdallah, commended the initiative as part of the implementation of the federal government’s food sufficiency programme, stressing the need for sustenance of the scheme just as he encouraged beneficiary farmers to fully utilize the loan as the driving force of the scheme.

A beneficiary of the tractor loan component of the scheme, Mallam U.D. Muhammad, spoke to Sunday Trust, saying he has been a beneficiary since 2009. The farmer who cultivates and harvests crops in commercial quantities in the town of Dadere in Obi Local Government Area, said he is in various crops with cereals as his focus. He told this reporter that the scheme has improved his farming, recording significant increase in production. “I am happy with the scheme. It is like the green revolution of those good old days. It is now farming, not punishment as it has always been over the years”, he said.

Like him, Samuel Mamman, a cash loan beneficiary from Jenkwe Development Area, described the scheme as a breakthrough in farming, explaining that “it has stimulated enthusiasm in farming and I am a practical example.”

Mamman and Muhammad are also beneficiaries of the state government’s extension programme which received a boost last year with the recruitment of 153 additional extension workers whom government has posted across the state to lift the implementation of its many schemes initiated to boost productivity.

Programme Manager of the Nasarawa State Agricultural Development Programme (NADP), Dr. Naphtali Dachor, whose agency carried out the recruitment, told Sunday Trust that the option became necessary in order to boost productivity by small scale farmers in the state.

The 2010 Budget of Reality outlines the development of the agricultural sector as one of the priority items of implementation with N2.4 billion budget for the current fiscal year. Governor Doma said in his budget speech that “agriculture continues to be a priority area in our development efforts. It is the main economic activity and source of livelihood of our people. Accordingly, government shall continue to give the agricultural sector the priority it deserves.”

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