By Bukola Olasanmi
To ensure adequate food production for the teeming population of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT and create other products in the agricultural value chain, the FCT Administration has flagged off the 2018 rain-fed farming season with the distribution of farm inputs to farmers in the FCT.
The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, during the flag off ceremony at the Old Parade Ground, Area 10 Garki, Abuja said the FCT Administration has keyed into President Muhammadu Buhari’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) through agriculture.
Bello stated that the Administration is working to improve agricultural practices in the FCT with a view to guaranteeing food security, creating jobs and helping the government save on the foreign exchange that was hitherto expended on food imports. He also indicated that the Administration is working towards the provision of tractors for improved farming activities in the Territory.
The Minister further disclosed that the Administration has strengthened the framework for timely distribution of fertiliser and other farm inputs such as improved seeds and herbicides adding that the sales of these inputs would continue on a regular basis at the agro-service centres in various parts of FCT, namely; Karshi, Gwagwa, Abaji, and Gwagwalada among others.
In the words of the FCT Minister, “Our presence here today, certainly, bears eloquent testimony of the Administration’s commitment, not only to ensure adequate food production, but also creation of other products in the agricultural value chain.
“We believe this is possible because FCT is endowed with a vast tract of agricultural lands, abundant human resources and large market for goods and services. These also offer great potentials for value addition for FCT farm products and development of the rural economy.”
Among the high points of the day’s event was also the distribution of motorcycles to FCT Extension staff for the purpose of strengthening the extension delivery system.
The Minister, however, solicited the cooperation of traditional rulers and the entire residents to strengthen agriculture as the foundation for a strong industrial base and economic prosperity, noting that the FCTA cannot do this alone.
The Secretary, FCT Agric and Rural Development Secretariat, Hon. Nzekwe Stanley while buttressing the FCT Minister’s remarks, said the FCT Agric Secretariat has procured fertilisers to be distributed at subsidised rate to genuine farmers. He said 20,000 farmers have also been targeted for the Accelerated Agric Development Scheme (AADS) which is a presidential initiative being executed through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Bank of Agriculture.
Hon. Nzekwe also disclosed that the Agric AADS will provide soft loans in this farming season to over 5,000 young men and women who are genuine farmers and are identifiable through the Chiefdoms and Area Councils.
The Secretary further noted that the FCT Administration is collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, as well as the IITA, Leventis Foundation, JICA and other international organisations to ensure the youths of the FCT and women are trained on modern skills of agriculture.
He urged the Area Councils and Chiefdoms to encourage the youths, women and farmers to come into Agriculture and avail themselves of these developmental packages.