Benue State is acclaimed as the nation’s “food basket” because of its rich and diverse agricultural produce. The state is blessed with fertile soil that produces a wide range ofvegetables, fruits and pasture for livestock.
The state also accounts for over 70 per cent of the nation’s Soya bean production.
It boasts of one of the longest stretches of river systems in the country with potential for a viable fishing industry, dry season farming through irrigation and for an inland water way through irrigation and for an inland water way. It has a variety of crops grown in irrigated and rain areas.
These include yams, rice, beans, cassava, potato, maize, Soya beans, sorghum, millet, beniseed(sesame), groundnuts, fruits, and coco-yam.
There are also important plantation crops. The agricultural production systems also include a wide range of horticulture crops. Benue is a producer of fresh fruits and vegetables such as cashew, cabbage, cotton seed, garlic, cardamom, onions, tomatoes, potatoes and inland fish.
The government has supported farmers through acquiring and clearing of demonstration farm lands.
Sensitisation has also been carried out with Local Governments and Traditional Rulers on the need to make land available for preparation for agricultural development.
The government is introducing fresh initiatives to boost post-harvest and processing technologies so that farmers can get good returns.
Agricultural practice has undergone series of modernisation for production of improved varieties.
The Divisional Agricultural Officers in the 23 Local Government Areas have been carrying out demonstration on tree nursery activities to the tree crops farmers in their Local Government.
Furthermore, demonstration farming which is carried out by the Accelerated Food Production Pro-gramme in the production of mandate crops such as rice, sesame, and cassava.
Agriculture and the agro-industry have provided most of the investment opportunities in the state. Yam, cassava, rice, maize, sorghum, soya bean, beniseed (sesame), and groundnuts for use in food processing industries have made Benue State a major source of economic activity nationwide.
The government is now offering special incentives to investors who show genuine interest in processing, preservation, and export of local produce.
Raw materials exist in abundance for agro-industry, as potato, sugar cane, millet, ginger and beans are produced in huge volumes, and the farmers who produce these crops have become so adept at at their task that, with a little spur from investors, they will be able to expand their output even more.
The agriculture sector has vast opportunity for employment generation and trade. There is need to have a long-term sustainable policy which will attract more investments and increase private sector’s participation in remote rural areas.
Government has a liberal policy of encouraging investors through incentives and industrial layout, especially in the capital Makurdi, which is served with paved roads, water, electricity and telephone.
The government has taken agriculture and agro-industry to a higher level through the Benue Advance Plan.
The government’s strategy is to enhance this potential by providing infrastructure and extension services to ensure that the quality of raw material produced locally meets the highest standards. This will ensure that investors have a good supply of quality produce for processing.
The government has, therefore, identified a number of priority sectors for investment focuses. These include large scale mechanised farming, vegetable oil processing, sugar manufacturing, livestock farming and feed production, meat processing, fruit juice production, starch and glue production, and the production of organic and inorganic fertilisers.
Investors who target these areas will find a willing and very attentive listener in the state government.
In its attempt to make Benue a haven for agricultural investment, the government has embarked on a large-scale land clearing across the state. These farmlands are suitable for mechanised farming of grains, and other food products.
In addition, the government has established a mechanism to facilitate the distribution of new seeds and seedlings, fertilisers, and other vital inputs.
For example, tractors and other implements can be hired from the state extension services. The government is also co-operating with international agencies, such as the UNDP, to help small-scale agricultural investors to improve their yields and get better prices for their products.
In sum, Benue is an investor-friendly state, and more efforts are being made by the state government to make investors feel even more welcome.