Bauchi State Commissioner for Agriculture Tasiu Mohammed said in this interview that the state government will assist farmers whose farmlands were affected by flood to plant wheat as an intervention crop. Excerpts:
How is rice farming in Bauchi State?
Well, you know rice farming in Bauchi was excellent. It is very unfortunate that this year we had a serious flood which affected most of the rice farms. Virtually 13 out of the 20 local government areas were affected. We are going to have some yields, but not what we had expected.
The Federal Government is talking about food recovery plan. What plan does your government have to support affected farmers, especially rice farmers?
You see, if we are to give seeds to farmers to go and plant rice now, it will not be good because it doesn't like cold weather. And now we are heading to Harmattan. So, we encourage them to plant wheat instead of rice because if you are planting rice now, you are going to incur a lot of cost.
If you plant wheat the result will be excellent because the weather we are approaching is favourable to it. So we are going to change our pattern from rice to wheat and the state government will give wheat seeds to the farmers that lost crops to the flood.
What is Bauchi State government doing to encourage youths to develop more interest in farming?
You see, about two months ago, the Bauchi State government under my own ministry through co-operative societies distributed N1 billion to our youths for farming. This loan will go a long way in helping our youths in terms of agriculture. Apart from that, we have sent higher, respected officers to Sebore Farms in Yola for extension training. And we have selected 40 youths, two each from the 20 local government areas who will go for training on cotton for which the governor has given out N50 million loan to cotton producing plants. So, you see most of the programmes the government is implementing are for the youth. Though some youth don't like farming because they assume it is for poor people. It is not like that. Farming is for rich people. It is meant for those that are healthy enough.
What is your assessment of the Growth Support Scheme Fertilizer and Seeds distribution programme in the state?
May be I will allow you to go and ask the director of fertilizer. The state is doing well in the GES programme. I am not bragging, Bauchi is number 1. We have given out 14,800 metric tons of fertilizer. We have accessed almost 98 percent of our commodity. Even in data, Bauchi is number 1. In distribution Bauchi is number 1. I am saying this. Go and verify it.