ABUJA- The National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) has begun the process of establishing an integrated farm estate on its 1,200 hectares of land in Ekiti State.
The Executive Secretary/ Chief Executive Officer of NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne, stated this in Ekiti at a meeting with farmers who have been farming on the land over the years.
The Farm Estate which is located in Okeako/Irele Ekiti in Ikole Local Government Area of the State, has been in existence for over 20 years.
Ikonne assured the farmers that the hectares of the land would be upgraded and transformed for the benefits of the farmers and the youths.
He said his Agency has been resuscitated by the present administration to assist farmers to produce and process their farm produce as well as provide access rural roads for them.
According to him, “We are here to make sure that this abandoned estate comes back to life.
“Your farm produce that you used to take out, you will still take them out to sell but this time, it will be fully processed because whatever we are going to produce on this farm will also be processed.
“We will put processing plant too so that we can add value to what we produce, this will also help your youth to be engaged because agriculture is the way to go”
He expressed optimism that the establishment of the integrated farm estate would bring rapid development to the community, as the farm would have a processing zone, a packaging zone and farming zone.
While addressing the farmers on the issue of insecurity, and farmers/herders crisis plaguing the community, Ikonne advocated the use of dialogue in resolving all the lingering issues.
“The solution is, how do we come together to do our businesses so that it would benefit all of us?
“That is what NALDA would do. I believe that the herders want their cows to be healthy and fattened so they can sell and make profit, what this means is that they also want a conducive environment to do their business
“So NALDA is going to engage them and the communities, we will create an avenue where they can feed their herds of cattle, so that we all can live in peace.
“Based on that we are doing, that is, integrated farming, they can buy from us, while we also can buy from them and the farm can benefit also through the cattle’s dung serving as manure”
“So we must find a way to live in peace, so that our children and their children after them would also have peace.
“Trouble, bitterness, hatred and war do not pay any community, so as an Authority, NALDA would find a way to bring both parties to the table”
The NALDA boss thanked the farmers and the indigenes of the community for keeping the farm safe and maintaining it all these years it was abandoned.
In another development, Ikonne had a meeting with the Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
Ikonne told him that he was in the State to carryout President Muhammadu Buhari’s instruction, which is for NALDA to recover and reactivate its abandoned farm estates across the country and utilise them for agriculture for the benefits of the youths at the grassroots.
He said, “Having made the funds available for NALDA to use, we will start immediately to reactivate the farm estates.
“We will start with road infrastructure which is about 4.5 kilometres and then clear the remaining lands in the areas that have not been cleared.
“We will take it in phases and I am very much sure that we are going to farm there this wet season as NALDA will be providing the tractors for the land clearing”
While appreciating the State Government for providing an enabling environment for NALDA, Ikonne said NALDA could only function in a State that creates a working environment.
He added that the farmers in the State have shown their enthusiasm and zeal to engage in modern farming.
He noted that with the flag off of the Young Farmers Scheme in November, 2020 by Mr. President, the integrated farm estates across the country would further ensure that the National Ycoung Farmers Scheme would be fully achieved to guarantee food security.
In his response, Fayemi pointed out that agriculture in the state is not a part- time business but a way of life.
Explaining further, the Governor said,“Currently we have about three rice mills that are coming on stream in Ekiti.
“All of these will not really bring to bear the quality and capacity of our people, if we don’t have enough farmers growing food.
“Somebody has to feed the mills, either it is cassava or rice, we must produce in order for the mills to be active and whatever you can do to assist us, just as you have promised, we will certainly be gratitude
“We all know how dear agriculture is to Mr. President.
“At every opportunity, he would tell us that we must grow what we eat and eat what we grow and that is also our passion in this state” he said.