21 November 2012

Nigeria: Kebbi Opts for Sweet Potatoes, Cassava


Elder Muhammad Sani Kanya is the Commissioner of Agriculture, Kebbi State. He said in this interview that the state lost over 120 hectares of farmlands to flood recently but intends to assist affected farmers to plant sweet potatoes and cassava as an interim measure.

How is rice farming in Kebbi State?

Rice farming is progressing in Kebbi State for the fact that majority of the local governments in the state are blessed with Fadama area, and rice is one of the main crops that they are cultivating there.

The nation recently experienced flooding. How did it affect Kebbi State?

Adversely. It affected it adversely. Over 120 hectares of farmlands were lost to the flood. Farmers are saddened about it, but there is nothing we can do. It is a natural disaster.

Since you said they were saddned by it, what is the government doing to relieve them?

The government has been doing its best. You know, it is giving some crops that can be cultivated after the rains. We are giving them other inputs to encourage them.

What kinds of crops are we talking about here?

Sweet potatoes mainly and cassava.

Do you see the farmers recovering fast from the effect of the flood?

Yes, one has to fend for himself. It is necessity. It has happened and there is nothing one can do rather than to look for other ways to survive.

Apart from the incentives put together by the Federal Government, is there anything that your state may need from the Federal Government?

Yes. Recently, a team from the Federal Government came here and went for inspection to see for themselves. Video cassettes were given to them. They saw farmers interviewed in it. They said they would help, and we are waiting to see what they can do for the farmers.

What is the cost of the intervention by the state government?

Right now, honestly, we are assessing the damage. We have not yet come to the conclusion on how much it will involve.

What is Kebbi State government doing to get the youth involved in agriculture?

Kebbi State government is trying to give incentives in the form of agro inputs to attract youths to the business of farming. That much we are doing. It is like youths are coming up to take up farming.

How effective is the GES programme on the sale of fertilizer and distribution of seedlings in your state?

I think there is great improvement. Yesterday, I called the coordinator and I was very much impressed with what he told me. And I hope it is going to improve particularly in my state.

Following the loses to the flood, what other plan does Kebbi State government have towards assisting farmers in the state beside what the Federal Government is doing in your state?

Well, just last week my Permanent Secretary returned from Morocco and he was telling me of how assistance is given to farmers there. And we said let us do it that way too. For instance, any farmer cultivating less than five hectares is given 100 percent land grant and above that it is 80 percent. We have started to work out modalities on how to assist the farmers, clear the land for them, give them other incentives.

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