ON 1st June 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari resuscitated the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) and domiciled it under his supervision as contained in the Act that establishes NALDA.
President Buhari subsequently appointed Prince Paul Ikonne as Executive Secretary/CEO with a mandate of identifying NALDA lands and farm estates across the country and reactivate them for agricultural purposes which would foster rural development.
With this mandate, NALDA reached out to Nigerians to volunteer, and it got thousands of volunteers out of which it chose few to coordinate the activities of the Authority in various states while some staff were posted to NALDA from ministries and other government agencies.
NALDA kick-started its activities with animal husbandry programme, which included rabbittry and goat rearing in some pilot states.
This program, according to Ikonne while reeling out his scorecard, was a huge success as it had harvested over 30,000 litres of rabbit urine and 1,000kg of rabbit droppings, which are being used as fertilizer having subjected them to lab analysis and the rabbit farmers are making income from this.
During one of his visits to Imo State, Prince Ikonne said the Authority had harvested 25,000 litres of urine from over 5000 rabbits that would be use as organic fertilizer for its farms.
This is just as he said it is also expecting to get 136,0000 rabbits from the 17,000 that it shared among farmers in a year, while the programme will be extended to five states.
While unveiling the Rabbit Waste Organic Fertilizer harvested from rabbits for four pilot states in the country, Ikonne said NALDA is expected to harvest 2,142,000 liter of urine within a year.
“The rabbit rearing program was kicked off about three months ago after Mr. President flagged off National Young Farmers Scheme (NYFS) in November 2020. The pilot states for the program are Imo, Abia, Oyo and Cross River.
He said the program is designed to engage 17,000 young Nigerians into rabbit rearing, but as a result of learning points from the first pilot phase, NALDA has generated a deep insight around the dynamics of rabbit farming.
After Mr. President’s directive on recovery of NALDA abandoned farm estates across the country, the Authority embarked on the task, and identified and recovered NALDA farm estates 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.
In Ogun State, NALDA recovered 700 hectares of land which it plans to reactivate and establish farm estates in collaboration with the state government.
NALDA said it would also establish a Garri processing plant in the state to boost the cassava value chain and boost job creation for youths in the country.
The cassava packaging plant is expected to compliment the Integrated Farm Estates to be established in the three senatorial zones of the state.
NALDA said the farm estate would comprise of different agricultural activities which include farming, processing and packaging areas, commodity market, residential areas and schools.
As part of its activities in the state, NALDA said it would train 200 graduates with agricultural and science background on Soil testing technology.
NALDA recovered 1,200 hectares in Ekiti State and commence the process of establishing an integrated farm estate on the recovered land.
The farm estate located in Okeako/Irele Ekiti in Ikole Local Government Area of the state had been in existence for over 20 years and owned by NALDA, has existing 50 hectares of cashew farm, storage and a processing facility that would be reactivated and upgraded.
The Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of NALDA Prince Ikonne said “We are here to make sure that this abandoned estate comes back to life, your farm produce that you use to take out, you will still take them out to sell but this time it will be fully processed because whatever we going to produce on this farm will also be processed, we will put processing plant too so that we can add value to what we produce, this will also help your youth be engaged because agriculture is the way to go”, Prince Ikonne said.
Speaking when visited by the NALDA boss, the Governor of Ekiti State Dr. Kayode Fayemi said agriculture in the state is not on a part time basis but a way of life and anything that needs to be done to accelerate development in the sector is a welcome development.
“Currently we have about three rice mills that are coming on in Ekiti, all of this will not really bring to bear the quality and capacity of our people if we don’t have enough farmers growing, somebody has to feed the mills, either it’s cassava or rice we must produce in order for the mills to be active and whatever you can do to assist us just as you have promised we will certainly be full of gratitude”
“We all know how dear agriculture is to Mr. President, at every opportunity he would tell us that we must grow what we eat and eat what we grow and that is also our passion in this state” he added.
Responding, Prince Ikonne said NALDA is in Ekiti state to carryout President Muhammadu Buhari’s instructions which is for NALDA to recover and reactivate its abandoned farm estates across the country and utilize it for agriculture to benefit youths in the grassroots.
NALDA said said it would establish an integrated farm estate in Imo State, South east Nigeria which would engage 1000 youths.
The Farm estate would be established on a 400 hectare land in Umuneke and Umukabia communities of Ngor Okpalla Local Government Area of the state.
The farm estate would comprise of different agricultural activities which includes Fish farm, poultry, rabbit farm, maize farm, commodity market, residential areas and schools.
During an interactive session with the traditional leaders and youth of the communities, the Executive Secretary of NALDA Prince Ikonne assured the people of a better and improved ways of doing agriculture which would in turn boost their income.
He said the government would ensure that all the infrastructures needed to make the Farm Estate an agricultural hub to reckon with would be put in place.
He said borehole have already been drilled to address the water needs of the farm, construction of access road and land clearing was already ongoing while calling on the indigenes to protect and guard the equipment from activities of vandals.
He said NALDA was in the community to receive the land donated by the communities and to ensure that it is being put to use for their benefits.
“we are officially here to receive the 400 hectares of land donated by Ngor Okpalla people, also to assure them that the Federal government is here to empower the youth as directed by Mr. President through farming and the entire Agriculture value chain, I’m so happy to see that the two traditional rulers are working together in harmony with the entire community to see that this development takes place”
“This place is going to be the location for Imo Integrated Farm Estate, which would have poultry, fishery, goat pens, crop section and a housing unit and Ngor Okpalla is blessed to have this on their soil, we are happy to see their support for Mr. President and to see that their youths are empowered through this place” he added.
According to the him, crop planting activities would commence on a section of the land when the result of the soil test carried out on the soil is ready as NALDA is poised to make Ngor Okpalla a hub of maize production.
In Gombe State, NALDA said it has commenced the process of reviving it’s 300 hectares of farm land in the State.
NALDA is also targeting to engage 400 youth under its National Young farmers scheme in collaboration with Federal College of Horticulture Dadin, Kowa, Gombe State which donated 100 hectares to the Authority as part of it partnership move.
Prince Paul Ikonne, the Executive Secretary of NALDA who visited the facility recently for on the spot assessment said the youth would be empowered to engaged in the dry season farming.
Also during his visit to the College, Ikonne said the Authority would be collaborating with the Institution to create Youth employment and boost food security across the country.
Ikonne said the 300 hectares of land which is NALDA’s abandoned farm estate would be reactivated as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari while the 100 hectares donations from the college for partnership would be used for the dry season farming, which would engage over all more than 400 youths.
He said all facilities left to decay in the farm would be revived and put into use to achieve food security and create wealth.
“NALDA wants to partner with farmers in Gombe State to achieve the desire of Mr President for Nigeria to farm what it will eat. So the essence of our visit today is to extend our hands of partnership and collaboration in order to give our farmers sense if belonging. To give them all the necessary support so that our output will be desirable”, Ikonne said.
NALDA said it would empower 500 youth farmers in crops, poultry and animal husbandry in four villages in Akwa Ibom.
Prince Ikonne who disclosed this during the inspection of suitable land in four different community, said youth in the area will be trained in different fields of agriculture in the area.
He said under the Young Farmers scheme, NALDA would encourage youth to take into farming, too attract, encourage and empower 1000 farmers from each of the 774 local government areas annually cutting across the entire agricultural value chains.
“Now that the communities has given us land, our responsibility is now to develop the land using agriculture, that is what we are going to use to engage them and empower them into meaningful production and modern agriculture.
“This is what we are going to be doing to use the 40 hectares for crop plantations and inter-crop activities, thereby engaging about 200 youths in these four communities that has donated the land. And for the animal husbandry, we are going to be doing goat and poultry farming, that also we engage not less than 300 farmers, total of about 500 farmers directly, that gives you the picture of what the community will look like, if we engage 500 youths.
The NALDA state coordinator, Mr Imu Imu who explained that the scheme is open to all the community in the country and he enjoyed other community leaders in the state to encourage their people to participate in the programme.
NALDA trained over 100 farmers at Tunga gana, a subub commmunity in Paikoro local government area of Niger state which is about 30km from minna the State capital and located along River Kaduna bank.
Conducting journalists round the 417 hectares acquired by the local farmers for the irrigation farming, the NALDA State Coordinator, Mr. Aminu Umaru explained that over 100 farmers were trained in irrigation rice farming and upland rice farming.
He said the training was targeted at making the farmers harness the potential of River Kaduna and improve the income of the indegent community which the indigenes initially only used for fishing before the arrival of NALDA in January this year in the community.
Mr Aliyu further explained that over 70 hectares have already been ploughed with rice nursery already in place which transplanting of the irrigation rice from the nursery would commence soon.
He however observed that with the presence of NALDA in the community, many young farmers have indicated interest to be trained in rice planting and handling of farm tools and equipment which is provided by NALDA to assist the trained farmer .
Mr Aliyu explained that over 10 pumping machines have already been provided, 2 tractors, 50 planters, sprayers, transplanters, seedlings, gloves and other farming tools. He noted that ten women from the community also were trained in the programme.
A 62 year old Salisu Noma, a beneficiary of the rice irrigation training who spoke in hausa said they were ignorant of the River, but with the coming of NALDA,they can now see the advantages in farming business.
Ahmadu Isah who is the Sarki Ruwa of the community commended NALDA and explained that they have witness progress so far. He also appealed to the government and NALDA to support the farmers with mobility due to the long distance of the farming area.
For Sadia Ahmed one of the female beneficiary, NALDA has thought them land clearing and they can assist the men in planting and harvesting of farm produce and appealed for continuity in the project.
In Ebonyi State, NALDA said it is targeting to engage 3000 youths through its integrated farm estate in Ebonyi State.
Ikonne assured that the NALDA would engage in the clearing and preparation of the land, embark on the training of the benefitting farmers under the National Young Farmers Scheme(NYFS).
He promised to provide infrastructure, mechanisation, inputs and other logistics to the young farmers, as part of measures to create jobs, generate wealth and ensure food security in the nation
The NALDA boss revealed that over 3,000 youths in the state would be engaged in this exercise, after the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the State Government.
During a visit to the abandoned Akanleke Hatchery Farm in Abakiliki, Ikonne promised that the abandoned hatchery farm would be reactivated by the Authority to boost commercial poultry production.
Prince Ikonne told the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr David Umahi that the Authority would establish an Integrated Farm Estate in another 104 hectares of land provided by the state government to be completed by October this year.
“We are establishing an integrated farm estate in Ebonyi, like we are doing in other States”, he noted.
Responding, the Governor Umahi requested that NALDA should consider the production of fingerlings and poultry in its proposed integrated farm estate, adding that 90 per cent of the State’s poultry needs are imported from Abia and Cross River States.
NALDA said it had discussions with the Borno state government on its fish farming programme which it is engaging 2000 fish farmers.
Prince Ikonne said “Borno state has submitted their complete list and has provided the locations, as we speak contractors are already at the site and in the ten locations for the project.
NALDA also said it has trained 269 soil doctors and agriculture extension workers on soil sample collection and testing and extension services in the State.
NALDA had earlier made known its readiness to train over 30,000 youths as soil doctors across all of the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The trainees includes graduates with science related educational backgrounds and corps members, were awarded certificates and also given test kits to facilitate their field operations in Maiduguri.
Prince Ikonne said the programme is geared towards introducing young people into the scientific method of farming for better crop yields and food security.
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