By Gabriel Ewepu, Abuja
As agribusiness continues to be the focus of wealth and job creation towards boosting food security, the National Agricultural Land Development Authority, NALDA, has concluded plans to boost cassava production with a packaging plant in Ogun State.
This was disclosed by the Executive Secretary, NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne, during a courtesy visit to the Governor of Ogun State Dr Dapo Abiodun while explaining the essence of NALDA’s visit to the State.
Ikonne also told the Governor that NALDA wants to reactivate its 700 hectares of farmland in Ogun State including the establishment of Integrated Farm Estate in the three Senatorial Zones of the State along with a garri processing and packaging plant.
According to him, the cassava packaging plant would complement the Integrated Farm Estates as the Farm Estates would be a beehive of agricultural activities including farming, processing and packaging areas, commodity market, residential areas and schools.
He said: “Mr President has directed us to create employment and achieve food security through NALDA’s mandate, we are running projects which Ogun state has been slated to be one of the pilot states.
“NALDA integrated Farm Estate is going to be sighted in the 3 senatorial zones in the state and the Integrated Farm Estate is a concept that takes in everything from production to processing to packaging and marketing and it would also have residential areas for farmers.
“Your Excellency, NALDA would be requesting you to provide the lands suitable for this project and as soon as the land is made available NALDA would commence work.
“Knowing that Ogun state has the largest capacity in Cassava production, our Garri packaging plant would be located in Ogun state, whereby NALDA would be the off-taker from the farmers, they would process it and package accordingly and move it into the market, so putting this plant here in Ogun state would create more opportunities and also encourage the farmers to produce more knowing there would be a reward.”
According to the Executive Secretary, the project is an avenue to create thousands of jobs for the youths of the state, because it would touch on the entire agriculture value chain from production to processing and marketing, he further applauded the governor’s prompt response to NALDA and creating the enabling environment for agriculture to thrive in the State.
He also added that the agency will train 200 graduates with agric and science background on soil testing technology, but would commence based on the selection made by the State Government.
“We are training young Nigerians based on Mr President’s directive on soil testing and extension services, Ogun State is expected to nominate 200 young graduates that have agric or science degrees that would undertake this intensive two weeks training in the first phase.
“They would be empowered by NALDA with soil test kits and implements to collect soil samples and they would begin to generate money from the programme thereby making a living for themselves”, he stated.
He noted that the state’s progress in Agriculture cannot be overlooked and that NALDA is there to support and complement their efforts through collaboration and partnership in order to execute the project to its fullest capacity.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Ogun State, Dr Dapo Abiodun, while commending NALDA for choosing Ogun State as one of the pilot States for the Integrated Farm Estates, assured that his administration will sustain the agro-produce programme.
He said his administration decided to key into President Buhari’s agricultural programmes, which according to him Ogun State is the industrial hub of the country and raw materials needed to sustain industries.
He further stated that the move by Ikonne-led NALDA would also consolidate the State’s agricultural programmes and projects such as the state’s agripreneur drive geared towards boosting employment creation for the youths in the State.
He said the state being the largest Cassava producer in the country would benefit immensely from the establishment of the Garri processing plant.
He said: “For us, we felt it important to key into Mr President’s ‘grow what you eat and eat what you grow’ programme, we appreciate the act that we are the industrial capital of this country and to sustain that.
“We need to continue to sustain our agro produce programme because that’s the engine room of inputs for industrialization and since Mr President gave his blessing, we haven’t looked back.”
It would be recalled that NALDA had commenced the establishment of Integrated Farm Estates in Imo and Ekiti States respectively, with Ogun State being the third, which also had empowered youths in animal husbandry in some States.
Vanguard News Nigeria