It is no longer news that the policy thrusts of this present administration under President Muhammadu Buhari is to prioritise agriculture as the key driver of Nigeria’s economy aftermath of the slump in crude oil price at the international market.
No doubt, the the burden of fixing Nigeria’s economy has fallen squarely on the the shoulders of President Buhari as the oil industry has floundered and the revenue originating from it has taken a plunge, down to a ridiculous level that no serious government will fold its arms and watch without doing something proactively.
However, in realising the set objective of its policy thrusts, the administration put in place a framework to achieve an all inclusive agric value chains.
Ideally, to fix Nigeria’s agriculture and its economy, what is needed is how to harness the good policies already in place in the sector and blend with those that are currently being fashioning out, in a coherent and consistent manner such that it will instill confidence in the citizens, investors, market operators, farmers, traders and everyone along the various agricultural value chains.
That is the reason President Buhari supported the interventions that could move agriculture forward and contribute to repositioning the economy and diversify it away from over-reliance on oil.
In achieving the present administration’s objective, the Federal Government took up the challenge of boosting local production of food so as to reduce the country’s dependency on food imports, boost domestic food production, revive rural economy and expand export earnings.
Hunger is still primarily a problem that is related to poverty and the majority of those who do not have enough to eat are smallholder farmers. They have been unable to fully exploit rising global demand for agricultural goods that would help them to sustainably improve their living conditions.
Due to a lack of coordination between the storing, processing and selling processes, a large proportion of the food they produce spoils on the way from the field to the plate.
Heavy dependence on the global market places many people at risk of sudden and acute food shortages, especially those living in poor rural areas. This makes it especially important to increase the availability of foodstuffs on local markets.
The key to raising incomes and boosting production in agricultural systems characterised by smallholder farms lies in sustainably raising productivity, enhancing organisation, such as through associations of producers, and improving marketing and processing along the entire agricultural value chain.
In short, locally adapted innovations are needed in order to foster sustainable development throughout the agricultural and food sector.
Speaking at the commissioning, Osinbajo highlighted the importance of green house project agriculture on Nigeria’s economy.
He noted that it would create more job opportunities and guarantee food production. “The Green House project here in Jalingo is one of the smartest ways to produce vegetables year round… agriculture and agro processing will provide a lot of jobs and the Federal Government will support States that are keen in developing the agriculture sector.”
Jalingo Green House
Taraba, which is mostly an Agricultural State and prides itself as the ‘Nature’s Gift to the Nation’ is about to experience a turnaround in agriculture, which will boost its economic standing in the committee of states in Nigeria.
The reason for this revolution is no other venture than the gigantic green house project situated within the premises of the Taraba state University and the State College of Agriculture in Jalingo.
The project was initiated by the Rescue Administration of Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku, with the initial capacity to produce four exotic crops- cucumber, lettuce, pepper and tomatoes.
It promises to be the first greenhouse in the entire North East sub region and the largest in the country. It sits on five hectares of land with an installed capacity to house fifteen greenhouses.
Currently, eight of them have been completed while the remaining are still under construction.
The project was contracted to Onida Development Limited, an Israeli company, which hopes to construct the project, train the needed personnel and handover the project to the owner – the Taraba state government, in the future.
Established in August 2015 by the Darius Ishaku government, the green house is worth N2 billion. According to the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr David Ishaya Kassa, N900 million had so far been sunk into the project, which is about 65 to 70 per cent completed.
Benefits of greenhouse project
A lot of politicking had characterized the establishment of a greenhouse in the Taraba state with some claiming it shouldn’t be a priority of the government. But if looks it from the business principle of need assessment, a greenhouse is indeed needed for several reasons.
One of the things that can’t be debated is the fact that the state hardly produce vegetables, which are basic dietary requirements for the people but a greenhouse can serve as not only a source for vegetables but create capacity for farmers who would like to engage in vegetable farming. Vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, lettuce, cucumber and so on are mainly brought into the state from elsewhere and a greenhouse might fill that gap.
Secondly, it may serve as a source of employment for the youths and revenue generation for the state as the Commissioner rightly pointed out.
Kassa said : “Apart from supplying the vegetables of international quality, we intend to also take it to other cities. You know in this country, most of our vegetables are being imported. We want to replace those markets; instead of importing vegetables, let’s produce them in Taraba so that we can earn forex. Apart from that, if you go to the greenhouse, you will find out that over 200 of our youths are already employed. That is to say, part of the vision of this greenhouse is being fulfilled by tackling the issue of unemployment of our youths.”
However, stakeholders are divided on the implementation of green house agriculture in Nigeria because of the effects of Genetic Modified Organic (GMO) crops.
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