The Jigawa State government under the leadership of governor Muhammad Badaru Abubakar has identified agricultural development as its top priority with the agenda of “Supporting Agriculture and its Value chain” to build sustainable local economy. Right from his inaugural speech, Badaru has been announcing that he is going to use the area Jigawa State has comparative advantage to build its economy and eradicating poverty among the people of the state.
Governor Badaru also declared the agricultural sector as the cardinal point to diversify the state’s economy, based on natural resource endowment, consisting of vast arable lands, abundant water resources, numerous irrigation schemes, vast population and suitable climate as an area to be explored for building the state economy and to make it non dependent or less dependent on federal allocation.
In pursuing the proclaimed agricultural agenda, the government allocated the sum of N7.4 billion to the sector in its 2016 budget. While this is more than four times the approved allocation to agriculture in 2015, it is in fact the highest allocation ever contained in any previous appropriation law in the state.
The proposed allocation is largely earmarked for the procurement of agricultural inputs, including both chemical and organic fertilizers, high quality certified seeds, medium-sized tractors to support large-scale cultivation with less manual labour. Other areas include agricultural research and extension services, including comprehensive soil mapping, rehabilitation of all existing irrigation schemes and development of farm settlements and grazing reserves for livestock development.
The government plan to encourage commercial farming by making modern farm inputs, improve seeds and credits funds as well as making them available to farmers so as to produce more at a competitive price.
However, under the state agricultural policy, wooing the foreign and local investors to come to invest in agriculture and agro-allied industries was mentioned by the governor. From January this year to date, the state had carried out some projects and program that shows its commitment in achieving the desired goals in the sector even though more frantic effort and funds are required.
The government had purchased thousand tones of fatilizer and distributed same to the famers in a subsidized price, the government had also placed order for the procurement of different farm implements, including tractors and harvesting machines from China.
The OLAM agro-allied company had signed agreement with the state governments for training farmers on modern Sesame farming, establishing processing company at Malam Madori for processing and packaging it for export. The programme has already commenced by purchasing virtually all the Sesame produce last year in the state.
Other investors who made their presence for investment in the state are Lee Group company has which already acquired land covering about 12,000 hectares for establishing sugarcane estate and sugar factory in Gagarawa local government area of the state.
Also, Dangote group of companies has acquired 30,000 hectares of Land for rice production and rice mill company. This has resulted in the adoption of out-grower scheme models involving small farmers in all major large scale agricultural partnerships.
The farmers outside the out-grower framework are also organised into clusters in all 287 political wards of the state with 50 Hectare per cluster and maximum of 3 groups per cluster to accord them the same benefits and advantages of the out-grower programme.
For effective and uninterrupted supply of inputs, the government had recapitalised its Agricultural supply company (JASCO) to the tune of N400 million to strengthen its capacity to provide quality consumables at affordable prices to the cluster groups, and 450 motorcycles have been provided to extension workers who were trained by NIRSAL to improve their mobility and capacity to provide extension services.
Major crops produced in Jigawa State, including rice, groundnuts, Maize, Millet, surgar cane, Sesame, gum-arabic, tomatoes, white and cassava are included in the new agricultural plan.
According to the state commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Hon Kabiru Ali, after compiling a comprehensive data for the state agricultural development, they came up with a strategy which include redefining the extension service, grouping farmers into cluster for easy coordination and teaching the farmers new farming techniques.
He explained that government’s main focus is to build the capacity of farmers to boost their production by using simple and affordable technology to make them produce in a competitive price.
Ali said, “For example, our farmers are getting 2.5 to 3 tones of rice per hecter but the new method we use at our demonstration farm gives 7 to 7.5 tones per hecter, so this new techniques is what we resolved to share with our farmers for boosting food production in a competative price in the state.
“Not only rice, we also in collaboration with OLAM Agricultural company came up with new method of Sesame production which gives high yield than the traditional method. We also had the same approach on Groundnout and Soya-beans. We also introduced an empowerment policy in which we are giving foundation seed to trained youths who will produce certified seed that we will process for distribution to farmers.
“Besides facilitating accessing of loans by our famers, we distributed over 4,000 metric tones of fertilizers to cluster farmers, medium and large scale farmers, while over N670 million was also distributed as a loan to farmers which they will pay in cash or with their farm produce after harvesting.
“In the area of animal production, we also came up with many plans to develop the sector. These include demarcation and improving of all our grazing reserves, constant and periodic animal vaccination and provision of veterinary clinic across the state”, the commissioner added.
The state has tried by setting a target, but more commitments, funds, political will, effective organization, policy implementation and evaluation is required to achieve the desired goals if Jigawa State must use agriculture as its chief source of economic growth.