Gov. Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa says the state government has assisted farmers in the state to enhance their rice yield from 2.5 to 5 tons per hectare.
The governor made the disclosure at the validation workshop on capacity gaps for implementing Holistic Empowerment for Livelihood Program (HELP), held on Wednesday in Kaduna.
He said farmers are being clustered to produce rice by providing them with knowledge on agronomic practices, seeds, insecticides and fertilizer in order to increase competitiveness.
“This has also provided jobs to over 145 youths across the value chain. They have been trained on manual planters, per boiling and also act as service providers to plant and transplant rice for farmers.
“They are also connected with rice dealers/millers who sell to them at factory price.
“I believe this workshop is meant for us, because we are in dire need of help, advice and guidance to record more successes in Agricultural development.
“Hence, the need for me to come along with all stakeholders in the sector,” he said.
Badaru disclosed that his counterpart governors in the Northwest region have met and agreed that the region’s future lies in agricultural development.
Jigawa has five functional rice mills and Dangote Group is presently building a 36 tons per hour rice mill.
In his opening remarks, the Executive Director, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Yemi Akinbamijo, said it is as a result of the commitment demonstrated by Jigawa and Oyo State governments that FARA developed the HELP initiative.
According to him, the philosophy behind HELP is the promotion of triangular collaboration involving the private sector, universities, research centres and policy makers in Africa, in collaboration with international agencies.
He stated that HELP also offers the opportunity to exchange information on relevant agricultural technologies and innovations.
“Already, FARA-Jigawa joint engagement with the Cuban government has yielded some positive results leading to the development of Afro-Cuba partnership for Agricultural Research and Development ,” he said.
Akinbamijo also noted that the workshop represents the first major step in the implementation of HELP during which capacity gaps earlier identified by the Arewa Research and Development Project will be validated.
He said new gaps would be identified and partnership for realising the vision of HELP mapped out.
According to him, the gathering is expected to come up with a draft that will eventually become country-specific work program aimed at guiding activities of all stakeholders for implementation.
On his part, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Agriculture, Daniel Manzo, said a lot needs to be done in the sector.
He however said authorities have initiated innovations to boost value chains in tomatoes and maize, particularly in Kaduna and Kano States.
“The gap in agricultural capacity has kept us in a circle of crippling poverty, if only our small farmers had capacity and are able to cluster themselves together, they can move the world.
“Even as scattered and sporadic their efforts are, they still contribute significantly to the nation’s economy,” he said.
The workshop had in attendance major stakeholders in the agricultural sector drawn from Northwestern Nigeria, International partners and top government officials.