President Muhammadu Buhari will on Monday in Daura, Katsina State, inaugurate the first Integrated Farm Estate established by the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA).
The authority was established by the former Military Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) through Decree No. 92 of 1992 to execute a National Agricultural Land Development Programme that would address the chronic problem of low levels of utilisation of abundant farmland and rural labour resources as well as the high cost of land development.
It was however scrapped in 2002, 10 years into its existence by former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.
NALDA was resuscitated in June 2020 after the Buhari-led administration amended the Act establishing the authority through the National Assembly to optimally deliver on its mandate of developing the rural communities through agriculture.
Buhari had also appointed Prince Paul Ikonne as NALDA’s Executive Secretary/Chief Executive to spearhead its affairs as well as achieve its mandate.
The authority is directly under the supervision of the president, who had directed it to implement programmes to boost agriculture especially in rural areas and create job opportunities for youths.
Buhari had at the launch of the National Young Farmers Scheme(NYFS), which is one of the programmes of NALDA, designed to woo more youth into farming, maintained that agriculture remained the backbone of the Nigerian economy adding that the government will intensify efforts to expand, modernise and revolutionise the sector which remained the country’s “most important asset”.
He said:“I have directed that all NALDA’s abandoned farm estates be retrieved to enable thousands of our young men and women to be engaged in farming.
“This administration will be achieving agricultural mechanisation through this scheme and I am confident that Nigeria under my watch, we will achieve food security in producing most of what we eat.
“In good harvest years, we may even export our surpluses and earn foreign exchange.”
Ikonne, had since hit the ground running by introducing several initiatives including rabbit farming, soil testing, fertilizer production among others, thereby enhancing the economic empowerment for youths and creating job opportunities.
Nonetheless, the NALDA boss said the farm estate was initiated and completed within six months.
He said the authority had had selected 14 states for the pilot phase of the programme where it would train 100 youths in three Local Government Areas each on various forms of agricultural production.
He explained that the pilot states were selected from the six geo-political zones of the country, as more states would be selected in subsequent phases of the programme to maximise its impact the economy.
The integrated farm estate is expected to have poultry pens, goat pens, rabbit pens, fish ponds, crop farming areas, processing and packaging plants, storage, clinics, residential area, school, training centres as well as an administrative facility.
Ikonne said: “The essence of the programme is to engage as many Nigerian youths as possible by giving them employment and empowering them with skills and tools to handle the business aspect of farming”.
“This will enable farmers to get value for their products and the global economic trend warrants that we call on everybody to go back to farm.
“The government of President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that farming will be fully mechanised to make it more attractive and more profitable.
“And that is what NALDA is driving. In this project, we will engage institutions, corporate bodies, governments, and individuals to lease their land that is not in use so that we could put it to use in a way that will contribute to economic productivity and youth employment”.
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