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How Full Is the country's Food Basket?

Written By Anambra Farmers on Sunday, 16 September 2012 | 02:39

Each of our reporter investigates the farming circumstances in Benue state, famously referred to as the food basket of the world.

Benue state is reputed to make over 120 agricultural products, and therefore the state prides itself as the "food basket of the region. " Some of the herbs grown include yam, cassava, soya bean, maize, cow pea, apples and citrus, the potentials which are still largely untapped.

The 36-year-old state at its creation was envisioned to make enough food that could feed the Nigerian populace, and satisfy the export demand across West Cameras.

No doubt, the state being blessed having a fertile land, and a temperate the weather which is most favourable with the cultivation of cash and foodstuff crops, propelled the designers of its acronym to look at the rider as the food basket of the nation.

Despite the fact that this state is a rich agricultural region, there are also available recruiting required as manpower and guide book labour driven farming.

In the particular dry season, farmers resort towards lakes, ponds, and rivers pertaining to irrigation farming. Believed to are the basket full of assorted food with the nation, what comes to the particular discerning mind, is how full could be the food basket of the region? Can Benue indeed feed the nation facing growing food insecurity in the earth?

Benue State is fully set to feed the full Nigeria with over three million of its farmers who have specialised in producing different food commodities beneath umbrella body of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) states that state chairman, comrade Aondona Hembe Kule.

Kule told our correspondent in Makurdi that this three million farmers registered under different commodity associations while using state AFAN, has the capacity to make food that can feed the world and create jobs for the particular teeming unemployed.

He argued that this state did not pride itself as the food basket of the region for nothing, as there are proofs to justify the rider that this land is extremely rich to grow everything edible.

"For instance, greater than 120 trucks loaded with yams, poultry products or citrus amongst others, are being transported from parts of Benue State to other places in this country on daily basis.

"The plain where Benue is settled is incredibly fertile and can grow every little thing edible. The soil is fertile to grow Soyabean, Beniseed, Maize, Groundnut, Cassava, Yam, Citrus etc in commercial quantity that can feed not only Nigeria, but the entire West Africa, " he stressed.

The chairman appealed towards federal and state government in order to lend some financial support towards association in the state, to empower the farmers to elevate above their primitive methods associated with farming.

Kule regretted the challenges associated with proper processing and marketing associated with farm produce facing the farmers inside the state, but expressed hope that this N2 billion federal government's agricultural farmers loan being expected with the next farming season, would assist these to tackle the teething problems.

Most agriculturists inside the state believe that with more emphasis inside the sector, transforming the country's economy could become a reality, because before the particular Oil bloom, agriculture was the mainstay of the nation's finances.

To this finish, Manza Denga, a financial pro, opined in a recent local publication that "Benue need to be exporting agriculture because be the best thing we have. "

Denga advised that serious players in agriculture need to be brought into the state, and provided with a sheet of land, and an enabling environment to include tax holidays and security, that may enhance their productivity in the particular vicinity.

"You will then crank out export markets, I'm sure should you check the internet anytime of the year, you will discover there may be food crisis in most parts of the world. Today, there will be food crisis in Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda along with Burundi.

"The only country containing food sufficiency in East Cameras is Tanzania and Uganda. We could have food surplus here and may give to those places. So if we now have an export desk here, we will feed these countries and we're not talking about britain and the Usa yet. We are just property on Africa and Benue could fulfill that dream, " they said.

According to some peasant farmers inside the state, there is the urgent should emphasize small scale investment inside the utilization of the available fertile land, coupled with the abundant recruiting in the state, if the war against poverty has to be taken serious by governments at all levels.

Abel Jato, who is certainly one of such persons who works challenging on his farm along Oturkpo road from morning until evening daily to grow yam, cassava, espresso beans and maize, advised government at all degrees to take agricultural development as a method of self sustenable economy and this will reduce the over addiction to the oil mono economy in the united states thereby opening more opportunities with the citizenry.

In Benue state, large farms are situated in every the main state. The Agatu local municipality and its neigbouring areas are seen to grow rice in commercial quantities, just at the Zaki biam axis in Ukum municipality area, is reputed to produce yam in export quantity.

Chairman associated with AFAN, Kule, said the state is committed to creating an enabling environment for agricultural development having a little push from government, as the basket is really full having assorted produce of Tomatoes, citrus fruit, poultry, fishes, Sorghum, Beniseed to say a few.

"The size associated with farms vary. We have farms that occupy 15 hectares of land or higher. We only need the federal to implement the growth enhancement programme in the same way we pray for the involvement of non-governmental organization to enable us overcome the challenges associated with processing and marketing. "

He decried the abandoned state of the Taraku mill, which according to him could absorb a good amount of raw materials for processing in food for export consumption, though the mill is the biggest of its kind in West Africa, and located in Benue near Oturkpo.

Nevertheless, critics of Governor Gabriel Suswam's administration have alleged that this government have plunged the talk about into reckless abandonment, such that its financial status just isn't adequately positioned to enable growth inside the agricultural sector.

They argued that over the years, the government has only paid lip service towards development of the agrarian talk about, even though it is completely aware that greater than 80% of its population, most whom are rural dwellers, thrive on agriculture to make a profit.

The commissioner of Agriculture inside the state, Eugene Aliegba was not immediately intended for comment.
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