The killings, kidnapping, ethnoreligious clashes and cattle rustling are well documented. What is less known is Kaduna State government’s effort to become the largest producer of cow milk and maize. ABDULGAFAR ALABELEWE reports
The magic lies in a federal government’s $200m package called Agro-processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support or APPEALS. It is a multi-year project developed in collaboration with the World Bank.
APPEALS is in line with the Agricultural Promotion Policy “The Green Alternative” that focuses on food security, local production, job creation and economic diversification, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, C/River, Kogi, and Enugu are the six participating states with dairy, ginger, tomato, cassava, rice, cocoa cashew, wheat, poultry, aquaculture, and maize value chains.
The project which targets over 60,000 farmers, including, women, youths and People Living with Disabilities (PLWDs), in Kaduna State is focusing on three priority value chains of dairy, ginger and maize production in Kaduna, where the state has comparative advantage.
The big question however agitating many minds is whether Kaduna can really change its story and deliver on the multi-million dollars project? The state government believes and assured it will.
Kaduna State Deputy-Governor, Barnabas Bala Yusuf spoke at the one-day sensitisation workshop on policy alignment and collaboration in the implementation of the APPEALS project in the state.
He said Kaduna with over two million cattle and about 800,000 milking cows, as well as being one of the largest producers of maize, is set to deliver on the project and be the hub of ginger, maize and dairy in the world.
The Deputy Governor who doubles as Chairman, Steering Committee of the project said, the state government was recording landmark achievements in its drive to promote agriculture, even outside the three selected value chains.
Represented at the event by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr. Abdulkadir Kasim, the Deputy Governor said, Kaduna is an agrarian state with over 70% of the population engaged in crop and livestock production.
“We have a land area of 4.5million hectares out of which two million is arable land. Nigeria is the 10th producer of maize in the world, while Kaduna is leading the pack in national maize production. Every part of the crop can be used as food, feed and fuel. We are also the largest producer of fresh ginger and investment in ginger production and processing can create over 5000 jobs.
“We are not relenting in our desire to engineer transition in agriculture from small-scale subsistence activity to a market oriented commercially viable business. This is the reason why Kaduna State is one of the six states collaborating with the Federal Government and the World Bank in the implementation of this project.
“It is not by accident that Kaduna State selected Dairy, Ginger and Maize as its PVCs for the APPEALS project. Let me reiterate that the choice is deliberate. Maize is selected to promote food security, ginger is for its export potential and dairy is to improve livelihood. These will support our drive to create jobs improve standard of living and attract investment into the economy of our dear state.
“Nigeria is the largest producer of cow milk in West Africa. Kaduna State has estimated number of 2 million cattle and about 800,000 milking cows but produces just a little above 400,000 litres of milk per annum, mainly by pastoralists. The opportunity of investment is awesome.
“The project will support government policy thrust and priorities for the agriculture sector. Our support for the Project will be unrelenting. The Government has already released a take-off grant of forty-eight million (N48m) for the Project, which to my knowledge is the only participating state that has given this funding for the project.’ Said, the Deputy Governor.
Coordinator of the project, Dr. Yahaya Aminu said that, “the project targets 10,000 direct beneficiaries and 50,000 indirect beneficiaries in Kaduna State.”
Dr. Aminu, explained that, the project is meant to enhance agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers and improve value addition along priority value chains that are Dairy, Ginger and Maize for Kaduna state.
This he said, will be achieved through supporting farmers’ productivity and their linkage to markets, facilitating consolidation of agricultural products and cottage processing facilitating farmers and small and medium businesses’ clustering and connection to infrastructure network and business services.
According to him, “the project is expected to achieve; increase in productivity of agricultural produce of priority value chains of farmers supported by the project, increase in processed output of priority value chains by project beneficiaries.”
“At least 35% (3500) of direct beneficiaries will be women and at least 5-10% (500-1000) will be People with Disabilities (PWD). The project has a component to benefit women and youth that will allow them to develop agri-businesses that are expected to create jobs and improve their livelihoods.” Dr. Aminu said.
Speaking on the security, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr. Abdulkadir Kasim said, as part of efforts to ensure security of the farmers and success of the project, the state government was set to deploy its security apparatus in that direction.
Dr. Kasim argued that, the project itself will lead to improved security in the state, considering the tens of thousands it will employ directly and indirectly.
According to him, “we are convinced that, this project in itself is a security measure. This is because, we have a army of unemployed youths in the country, and the projects targets more than 60,000 people to be employed, majorly youths across the value chains of the three products. This is because, there is a link between unemployment and crime. So, crime rate will definitely come down.
“Secondly, we are all aware that, Kaduna State government under the able leadership of Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai recently acquired some drones to be used for security surveillance and intelligence gathering. This will soon be yielding positive results in security of our state. This is in addition to synergy between the state government and security agencies towards ending various forms of security challenges in the state,” the Permanent Secretary assured.
Source: The Nation Newspaper