The major milestone recorded in the agricultural sector during the first tenure of Governor Jonah Jang was the establishment of Agricultural Services and Training Centres (ASTCs) through a Joint Venture Agreement between the Plateau State Government and SEC Equipment & Communications Nig. Ltd, signed on 29th May 2008.
The main reason behind this initiative was to introduce principles of commercial agriculture in a rural subsistence agricultural setting through provision of comprehensive, proven and state-of-the-art agricultural services to the farming community in Plateau State.
Three of the ASTCs (One per Senatorial District) have so far been set up:
- ASCT Kassa/Vom – Operational
- ASTC Mangu – Commencing operations in 2012
- ASTC Shendam – Construction near completion
Embedded in the agreement are four (4) commercial agricultural projects:
- Dairy Farm and Milk Processing Plant – Butura, Bokkos LGA
- 300 ha open field irrigated crops – Butura, Bokkos LGA
- 30 ha open field vegetable farm – Yelwa, Shendam LGA
- 6.1 ha Greenhouses, Net houses, Tunnels – Vom, Jos South LGA
Achievements of ASTC Kassa/Vom
- Yields of maize: Now between 6 – 8 tons per hectare from 2 tons
- Farmers served – 1,470
- Land area cultivated: 7,205 ha (Year 1 target – 2,000ha)
- Training: 2,200 farmers trained
- Inputs: Fertilizer – 1,211.9mt (24,239 bags)
- Seedlings: over 1.6 million assorted vegetable seedlings raised (Cucumber, Peppers, onions, cabbage, melon)
- Formation of co-operative groups: 7 established
- Direct Employment: 124 persons
- Very high demand for vegetables seeds
Because of the high quality of services being delivered by the ASTC, the demand for services far outweighs the capacity. This has caused government to approve the acquisition of additional 150 tractors and implements, thus doubling the number of tractors per centre.
The ASTC concept has fitted very smoothly into the agricultural transformation agenda of the Federal Government.
One Year achievement of the Ministry of Agricultrue
A. Establishment of Plateau State Agriculture Consultative Committee
The stakeholders in this committee include:
– Federal Government Agencies in the State;
– State government;
B. The Ministry also identified all Agricultural projects in Plateau State and developed business plans for several projects; in particulate are:
i. Expansion of ASTC
ii. Rehabilitation of Panyam Fish Farm
iii. Rehabilitation of Kuru Livestock Complex
iv. Rice Programme
v. Cassava programme
vi. Potato (Irish) programme
vii. Acha (Fonio) programme
viii. Cotton programme
ix. Sorghum programme
x. Maize programme
xi. Groundnut programme
xii. Plateau Agricultural Development programme (PADP)
xiii. College of Agriculture, GArkawa
xiv. Plateau Agricultural Mechanization Services Corporation (PAMSCO)
These programmes will engage 95,200 farmers and create new jobs for 1,079 people.
The programmes are expected to:
1. Attract investors;
2. Source for funding (Funding Option of the Three Pillar Policy) through:
Presentation to revenue allocation, mobilization and fiscal commission at Abuja led to visit to Plateau State by members of the commission toward accessing Environmental Fund;
Joint presentation (with Ondo and Adamawa States) to National Economic Council to access additional funds from the Central Bank Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme.
3. Reposition the project for
i. Full capacity agricultural production
ii. Create employment
iii. Add value to agricultural produce
iv. Revive centres for skill acquisition and training
v. Ground work for convening State Agricultural Summit
C. Enhancing Performance
• Improvement of information flow within the Ministry through enlarged management meetings; regular briefings on projects implementations; production and circulation of minutes of all meetings and regular departmental meetings.
• Improved inter- ministerial linkages and information flow through: formation of several inter – ministerial committees and hosting of several meetings;
• Involvement in, taking ownership and responsibilities of all projects by all staff;
• Computerization of key offices and registries;
• Generation of new ideas and concepts at all levels;
• Establishment of a Ministerial Revenue Committee;
• Establishment of Committee on Youth Agricultural Programme
D. Support to Units/Agencies of Ministry Agricultural
1. Release of Counterpart funds to fadama II & III programmes (over N40m);
2. Release of N28m to Plateau Agricultural Development Programme for procurement of farm inputs;
3. Support of N400,000.00 to the Horicultural Division to raise economic tree-crop seedins for sale to the public and improve on revenue generation;
4. Loan of N2m to PAMSCO as support to effect repairs and purchase of implements for their tractors which will be mobilized to cover the southern Senatorial Districts this farming season.
5. College of Agriculture, Garkawa
E. Return of Home Economics Department to Ministry of Agriculture
After about two years in the Ministry of Women Affairs the department has been returned to the Ministry of Agriculture where it is more relevant by contributing to the value addition/value chain approach to agricultural enterprises in the state.
The department is already participating in UNICEF foods and nutrition programme in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Plateau State Planning Commission and the state Primary Health Care to encourage preventive nutrition.
F. Poultry Industry – Egg Glut Intervention
Early 2012, Nigeria’s border in the northern parts of the country were ordered shut by President Jonathan as part of a wider security plan to stem the tide of violent terrorist attacks in many northern states, including Plateau. As a result, Plateau State experienced an unprecedented egg glut, which left farmers storing eggs for over one month, leading to economic losses. Consequently, the government of Plateau State approved the mopping up of eggs with a grant of N30m. Following the intervention, the egg market stabilized in less than one month, thereby preventing the collapse of an over ten billion naira poultry business in the state.
In order to consolidate the state’s rural poultry, the Veterinary Services Department of the Ministry will undertake, in collaboration with the local governments, a state- wide vaccination campaign against new castle disease. The disease kills large number of rural chickens especially during the harmattan months.
G. Federal Government Agriculture Transformation Agenda
Officials of the Ministry have attended several meetings, workshops and the 2012 National Council on Agriculture to address the agricultural transformation agenda which aims at changing the view of agriculture as a development programme to agriculture as a business.
Agricultural business potentials can easily be realized through the determination of the value chains for each crops or agricultural product.
To support the determination of value chains, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Central Bank of Nigeria have put in place the Nigeria Incentive- based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) to encourage commercial banks provide funds for agricultural activities along the established value chains.
Several missions from the Federal Government have been hosted in Plateau State as evidence of the state’s willingness to key into the agricultural transformation agenda.
H. GES Growth Enhancement Scheme Team
Fertilizer Distribution System:
The Plateau State Government has signed an MOU with the Federal Government of Nigeria for the implementation of the growth Enhancement Scheme, which involves:
- Farmer data capture (Agric Census)
- New Fertilizer and other inputs distribution system
About 150,000 farmers have so far registered under the scheme in the state. Each farmer will benefit in this first year of the scheme by receiving 2 bags of fertilizer at 50% subsidy, 25% by the Federal Government while Plateau State will bear 25% of the cost of each bag.
It is expected that in subsequent years the quantity of fertilizer per farmer will increase and it is hoped that more farmers will register under the scheme.
In 2012, 150,000 farmers X 2 bags of fertilizer = 300,000 bags or 500 trucks
Compared with 94,500 bags or 157.50 trucks distributed by ASTC/Fadama III in the preceding year.
With Improved (high yield) seeds and adoption of good farm management practices the 2 bags of fertilizer can give yields of maize on ¼ of a hectare of up to 20 bags.
Fertilizer distribution in the state has been radically transformed so that distribution of fertilizer was by agencies that deal directly with farmers:
ASTC – 68%
PADP – 20%
FADAMA PROGRAMMES – 12%
NIRSAL Support for Irish Potato Programme:
A core investor has been identified by the NIRSAL office and discussions will soon commence so that an MOU is signed to pave way for substantial investment.
Panyam Fish Farm:
An inter-ministerial pre-consultancy committee has been inaugurated to define the general nature and scope of the work to be undertaken to revamp the project. Members of the committee cut across relevant agencies and stakeholders – Ministries (Work, Tourism), Mangu Local Government Council and the Panyam Community.