Earlier this week, we concluded stakeholders’ consultations with party leaders and followers across the 27 Local Government Areas of the state. For four weeks, we interacted and received valuable inputs from representatives of the people. While thanking all those who sacrificed their time to be part of the interaction, I assure you of an all-inclusive government if we emerge victorious. As difficult as it is proving to be, we are working hard to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.
Today, I want us to continue with and conclude our discussion on agriculture. One major thing we need to agree on is that we can’t grow in isolation. We need to establish a working synergy and integration between the activities of farmers. The spirit and practice of farmers cooperatives shall be reawakened such that they will work together for the benefits of the community. With this, dissemination and diffusion of new and innovative ideas will be simplified.
One of the major drawbacks in our farming system is the use of local and uncertified crop varieties. This result is poor yields of most of our staple crops. In order to increase crop yields, our administration in partnership with research institutes such as ICRISAT, IITA, IFAD and National Seed Council (NSC) will establish demonstration farms of improved crop varieties and give out the seeds to farmers. This will certainly increase our net crop production and boost our economy.
Already, we have sponsored comprehensive research which has documented all the crops cultivated and animals reared in the state on local government basis. Overall, we can reveal that the top five crops cultivated in Jigawa state are rice, Hibiscus, Sesame, Sorghum and Millet. These are commercially exportable crops that are needed by industries. We also have a variety of livestock production especially of sheep, goats, cattle, camels and poultry as well as their associated products of meat, milk, hides and skin.
We intend to introduce new policies on livestock development especially with regards to animal varieties and animal health. Like human beings, animals require effective and efficient health care system. To ensure maximum productivity of our livestock sub-sector, we will Insha Allah build more veterinary clinics across the state and upgrade the existing ones. We will employ more veterinary doctors and extension workers to provide effective animal health care service delivery.
We will improve the relationship between farmers and herders by providing serious intervention in how they live and cohabit. Insha Allah, we will ensure that all cattle routes are reclaimed and demarcated. We will revive all grazing reserves across the state with improved grasses and drinking water sources. These were some of the policies initiated in 2007 which resolved almost all farmers and herders’ conflicts in our dear state but have been now abandoned.
Part of the problem that resulted in these conflicts is the quest of farmers to have more land to increase their production. Given that, we will revitalize the Jigawa State agricultural research institute, focusing on improving agricultural inputs, especially seeds, to give our farmers more output from less land. If herders are provided with adequate grazing facilities with clearly marked cattle routes, and farmers’ production is improved with their limited land, conflicts will be virtually eliminated.
We have some neglected elements of agricultural development which are money spinners, but the attention of people is not on them. Enterprises like fish production, fruits farming, plantation agriculture, perennial crops cultivation, horticulture, silviculture, apiculture, forest products development, etc. We will work with experts to assess the viability of some of these activities in our state.
Our major periodic markets can be strengthened to improve on their already specialized marketing of agricultural products by reorganizing them into clusters. Maigatari Market is a major livestock market of international repute, Gujungu is a big market where all sorts of agricultural products, grains and livestock are sold. The same can be said of other markets like Sara in Gwaram LGA, Shuwarin in Kiyawa LGA and Kafin Hausa Market in Kafin Hausa LGA We can use these markets to further develop our agricultural value chains.
To improve marketability, we must first develop an improved storage plan to reduce wastage of especially vegetable crops like tomato. Storage management shall be emphasized to expose farmers to better methods of storing their products for better preservation and reduction or complete elimination of losses. Some essential storage devices shall be developed, produced and deployed accordingly, e.g., Silos, kilns, etc. We shall liaise with the Nigerian Stores Product and Research Institute (NSPRI), the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) and other relevant Institutions on this matter. We will look into the possibility of Establishment of agricultural produce conditioning centres, one for each Senatorial District, for the processing of agricultural produce to support farmers for export.
As stated earlier, we have a clear intention of moving from subsistence to commercial agriculture. The ultimate goal of this aim is to eventually link agriculture to tangible economic development which is the only viable way to keep our large population employed. No other sector has the capacity to provide direct and indirect jobs to millions of people in both rural and semi-urban centres.
Just to remind us, agriculture, as a branch of the world economy, plays a significant role in human life. Its main goal, among other things, is to meet the population’s needs for food and provide the industry with raw materials. Unfortunately, we have not been able to meet these demands. We will, therefore, ensure that the necessary mechanisms to meet the various expectations of farmers, industrialists and the entire populace of Jigawa State are in place.
While reeling out all these well intended policies, I must advise us to reflect on the requirements and the efforts needed for them to be actualized. Gone are the days when government is buoyant enough to take care of all activities. The present economic realities will no longer allow that. People, especially farmers must be willing to make a lot of sacrifices to complement government efforts in making the sector better. The good news is that we will be taking issues one at a time and with the help of Allah, everything is possible.
Gobe ta Allah ce