Local farmers in Katsina State have expressed optimism on the new administration of Governor Dikko Umar Radda’s determination to revive agriculture and boost the local economy, as expressed in his inaugural speech penultimate Monday.
The governor had, in the speech, emphasized that as an agricultural state, his government will ensure that investment in the sector is well planned and done to maximize returns for over 85 percent of the people engaged in agriculture. He pledged to develop agricultural value chains along essential commodities and ensure that every local government benefits from activities in which they have comparative and competitive advantages.
In addition, he pledged to establish an agency to promote employment generation and youth engagement by developing MSMEs in the state. Boosting local economies will be critical to the collective growth approach for communities.
Reacting to the speech, the farmers said all-inclusive policy formulation and implementation is the cornerstone of improving agriculture in the state.
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Alhaji Wada Isah, a maize farmer in Dandume, said local farmers should be directly involved in the formulation and implementation of agricultural programs in the state in order to make meaningful progress in the sector.
“We have seen in the last dispensation how non actors in the sector hijacked some beautiful agric programs at local, state and national levels. Going by the pedigree of His Excellency Mal Dikko Umar Radda as an agriculturist, and his giant strides at SMEDAN, we remain optimistic that things will change for the better in the sector.”
Isah added that the high cost of chemical fertilizer and other inputs such as pesticides/herbicides was the major concern of local farmers in the state.
“As the wet season sets in, our main concern is high cost of inputs, availability of improved seeds. Farming has the prospect of taking Katsina State to a higher level, we have the land, weather and the know-how; what remains is for the government to devise ways to have direct contact with local farmers in the nooks and crannies of the state. That will help to know the genuine plight of the farmers and how to solve them,” said Wada Isah.
Another farmer from Faskari LGA, Habibu Garba, said developing value chains along crops like soybean, wheat, maize will boost the economy and provide job opportunities.
“Over time, Katsina State has been one of the major producers of soybean, maize, wheat and sorghum among other crops yet we have no processing firms to exploit the value chains of those produce, this has prevented the government from maximizing its revenue, and provision of job opportunities. We pray for the new administration to work its talk in that regard so that we record a tremendous progress in the sector.”
He added that provision of modern storage facilities for perishable crops such as tomato, onion, and Irish potato will help reduce wastages in their production.
“Irrigation farmers have over the years been clamouring for modern storage facilities. We hope that our governor will look into that as an important aspect of agricultural investment. The expansion of potato production especially in Bakori LGA cannot be overemphasized, government should factor in to make the state one of the major producers in the country.