Daily Trust (Abuja)

26 December 2012

Nigeria: Zamfara Empowering Through Agriculture

Farmers in Zamfara state have said that they are receiving adequate support from the state government for enhanced double cropping farming in the state through various programs introduced by the state government which they said have been yielding the desired results.

Farmers who spoke to Daily Trust said inadequate and untimely supply of fertilizer to farmers in the country, which has been the major problems of most farmers, has never been a problem to farmers in the state for two years now as they always had enough for their farms and at subsidized rate.

A double season rice farmer at Talata-Mafara, Malam Sidi Maishinkafa said though he is farming under the Bakalori irrigation project of the Sokoto Rima River Basin Development Authority owned by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Agric extension workers from the state government are always around to assist them with technical advise on how best to handle their farms.

"The state government rather than the Federal Ministry of Agriculture provide us with all the fertilizer we use in our farms for both wet and dry season farming. Though we are not getting all that we require, but like myself who need about 32 bags for my two farms, I am getting 28 from the state government at N1,000 per bag. So, fertilizer is no problem for us. there is nothing better than what we are getting here," he said.

Shitu Ibrahim Yankaba, Almustafa Maigyada and Namairogo Yankaba told this reporter at Yankaba village in Kaura-Namoda local government that they are beneficiaries in a new farming program introduced in the state where farmers in areas not covered by the Bakalori irrigation program are empowered to embark on irrigation project.

Speaking at different interviews, the trio said though their villages are not close to Bakalori Dam and do not have an all year flowing river, the state government sank tube wells for each of them in their farms in Yankaba, gave them a water pumping machine each, six bags of fertilizer and free seedlings.

Shitu said: "1,000 farmers were selected for the program across the state. We were trained by experts on irrigation farming and the breeding of economic trees, specifically mango. When we grow the mango, the state government will provide us with enhanced variety that we would use to transplant in order to produce enhanced variety.

"The state government said when we do that, it will buy each mango tree at its infant state for N500. It was just yesterday we collected our farming implements for the support program in this local government. I have over 200 mango trees I am breeding now. They are all at their infant stages. In the next two weeks, I will cross breed them. Thereafter, I will invite officials of the state government to come and buy my own. Yes, I collected my water pumping machine, six bags of fertilizer and seeds yesterday," he said.

A female farmer in the state, Talatu Dauran told this reporter that she belongs to a group of female farmers in the state who were given a rice parboiled machine, adding, "The women were asked to form farmers cooperative groups. Our group got the machine and I also got instruments for the production of groundnut cake. Every female farmer that I know got something either as an individual farmer or as a member of a group or both," she said.

Speaking, the Desk Officer of the special irrigation program of Kaura-Namoda local government, Alhaji Sanusi Yabo Kaura said the state government has selected 80 farmers as beneficiaries of the program from the local government and have each been provided with the support implements after digging a tube well each for them.

"Just yesterday, we distributed to each of the beneficiaries a water pumping machine, two liters of insecticides, six bags of MPK 20: 10.10 fertilizer and assorted seeds of their choice. The seed is free but other items were given to them on loan. When they breed the mango and sell to the state government, it will be deducted from there. Nobody is asking them to pay back with cash.

"The beneficiaries are farmers who dig local wells and use buckets to water their farms. What is new is that the state government has now empowered them through the use of pumping machines and the production of economic trees. They are encouraged to continue to produce onions, carrots and vegetables in addition to the economic trees," he said.

Briefing this reporter earlier, the state commissioner for information, Alhaji Ibrahim Birnin Magaji said the program was introduced by the present administration in the state to alleviate poverty among the people and enhance agricultural production, adding, "We organized a two-day training for 1,000 farmers in the state who are beneficiaries of this program. We have several other programs we shall soon unveil in the state.

"Under this program, improved seeds of maize, rice, Sorghum, millet and beans have been provided for farmers free of charge. We gave women farmers cooperative societies rice trashing and parboiled machines so as to empower them and enhance rice production in the state. The state government bought 700 trucks load of fertilizers and sold to farmers at N1,000 per bag during the 2012 farming season. Some farmers in the state said the fertilizer was not enough for them.

"In view of that the state government is buying 900 trucks load of fertilizer for 2013 farming season and will still sell to farmers in the state at N1,000 per bag. We shall continue to increase the quantity of fertilizer until we are able to meet the requirement of farmers in the state," he said.

Alhaji Birnin Magaji said the state government has programs targeted at enhancing wet and dry season farming as well as animal husbandry, poultry and the establishment of agricultural products process industries in the state as a way of empowering farmers.

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