The Executive Secretary, National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA), Paul Ikonne, has said the authority had identified and recovered various abandoned farm estates in no fewer than 21 states of the federation.
This, he said, followed the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari to the authority to recovery of all NALDA abandoned farm estates located across the country.
The farmlands were recovered in Gombe, Borno, Adamawa, Taraba, Niger, Kebbi, Oyo, Imo, Katsina, Lagos, Ekiti, Delta, Bauchi, Yobe, Kaduna, Benue, Kogi, Osun, Anambra, Akwa Ibom and Abia States.
Ikonne said efforts have commenced towards reactivating the lands in phases, adding that the institution was prepared to start wet season farming across on the recovered assets across the country.
Speaking on the achievements of the authority, one year after it was resuscitated by Buhari and domiciled under his supervision, the NALDA boss further assured that the president’s mandate to boost food security and create employment would be achieved.
Among other things, he said NALDA had engaged in dry season farming of rice in some pilot states including Adamawa, Niger, Yobe, Taraba and Bauchi adding that farmers were trained on dry season farming of which they were not used to, stressing that, “we are expecting harvest in the coming weeks”.
He also disclosed that its animal husbandry programme, which included rabbittry and goat rearing in some pilot states had been a huge success as over 30,000 litres of rabbit urine and 1,000kg of rabbit droppings, which are being used as fertilizer, had been harvested, having subjected it to laboratory analysis while the “rabbit farmers are making income from this”.
He said the authority was also in partnership with some state governments to reactivate abandoned state-owned farm estates.
He explained that in line with NALDA’s mandate of achieving food security, it had embarked on establishing fish villages to engage rural women in fish production and packaging in some pilot states including Borno and Abia states.
He further said through the NALDA integrated farm programme to be established in the 109 senatorial districts across the country, “we have reached out to the leadership of the senate for senators to facilitate land donation with the state governments”.
According to him:” This programme is under the National Young Farmers’ Scheme (NYFS), and each integrated farm is expected to engage at least 1,500 farmers.
“The integrated farm estate will 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.”
He added that the authority had provided tractors, boreholes, pumping machines, planters and transplanters, fertiliser and seeds to relevant farmers to enhance their production.
According to him, in order to achieve food security under the NYFS, “NALDA introduced the training and empowering of young graduates through the initiative of soil doctors and extension service providers.
“You will recall that I briefed the Press that NALDA was going to train and empower 30,000 soil doctors. This programme had since commenced and over 500 soil doctors have been trained in Borno and Jigawa States.”
He said the essence of the scheme was to equip young graduates with agriculture or science backgrounds with the knowledge of extension services, which include soil testing and analysis.
He added that they are being given soil-testing kits in order for them to earn a living while ensuring that farmers are being equipped with best agricultural practices for greater output.
Ikonne said all these achievements were made possible by Buhari’s decision to achieve food security and create employment opportunities in the country.
He said:”You will agree with me that by the time we realize the NALDA integrated farm estates in 109 senatorial districts in the country, we will not only achieve food security, but will reduce unemployment drastically.
“The benefit of engaging our rural women into fish farming and production is not only for local consumption but also for export in order to earn foreign currency.