By Iheoma Nnabugwu
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammad Sabo Nanono, on Saturday in Kano, reaffirmed the Federal Government’s plan to establish 635 farming service centres across the 635 Local Government areas of the country.
He also confirmed that the federal government in no distant time install 17 rice mills in Kano, as part its determination to boost agriculture and ensure food security in the county.
During a town hall meeting, with farmers group, associations and critical stakeholders held at Coronation Hall, Government House on Saturday, Nanono, also disclosed that the entire equipment to be used in the centres will be produced locally.
According to him, the equipment for the centres, would be imported, but to be assembled locally in Nigeria, adding that the Assembly plant of the fabrication of the equipment, is expected to provide jobs for over 3 million Nigerians.
In addition, he disclosed that FADAMA project in Kano, which is currently in phase 1 would expanded to Phases two and three, so as to spread over 180 million hectares of farmland for the cultivation of rice and also provide jobs for over 1million people.
When it eventually stabilizes, he assured Nigeria will rather transform from an importer of rice to exporter of the commodity, the quality of which will compare favourably, with international standard.
”The service centre will organize series of seminars for local farmers, focusing on updated techniques of farming, as well as the right texture of land for rice farming and high yielding species of rice to be cultivated.”
However, he expressed optimism that rice revolution in the country will ascend to the next level, to tally, with the slogan of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
The minister explained that the installation of the 17 new rice mills and the revival of the existing ones would increase rice production output and curtail the effects of border closure on food sufficiency and security.
Nanono stressed the need for farmers in the country to embrace modern agriculture,considering the over 70 million farmers, out of which only 14,000 are experts in modern agricultural techniques.
He noted that,” globally, there is change in the Agricultural sector, which has gone beyond the irrigation farming to mechanized farming.
According to him, “what is before me now, with the closure of the nation’s borders, is to encourage our farmers to produce mass rice that will make the rice mills in the county to work for 24hrs.
“This is why the federal government is planning to come up with a programme across 632 local government areas, where the service centres would equip farmers with modern Technology.”
Also speaking, Alhaji Mukhtari Saleh and Mustapha Halilu, who spoke on behalf of the farmers urged the government to tackle the challenges of farming in the country.
Newsmen report that the interactive session with the minister were attended by many farmers’ groups and associations and stakeholders on modern farming practice and solutions to problems affecting the agricultural sector.