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Mutfwang and The Land is Green Agricultural Revolution



Governor Murtwang score card on Agriculture


IT is a known fact that Plateau State is a leading agricultural destination in Nigeria. It is the largest producer of potatoes, carrots, cabbage, strawberries and a host of other high profile vegetables and shrubs in Nigeria. The State is also blessed with hard working, resourceful people, fertile land, and favourable climate which affords it some comparative advantage in agriculture beyond the scale of subsistence farming.

By encouraging large-scale mechanised agriculture, the vision of the Governor is for the State to be a major player in the food production and supply for both domestic and international consumption. The economy of Plateau state is still dominated by the non-mechanized farming and agricultural activities. In other words, agriculture, is still predominantly subsistence, peasant, and characterized by low and declining yield or returns to scale. About 70 percent of the farming population is engaged in agriculture and produce food and cash crops for domestic consumption and as inputs for agro-allied industries.

The present administration of Governor Caleb Mannaseh Mutfwang, who took his oath of office on May 29, 2023, came with ‘The time is now’ and the land is green’ mantra. In other words, one of the policy thrusts of the administration is agriculture. He had, in his inaugural speech said: “our land is green, blessed, fertile and supportive of agriculture, coupled with the serene and clement weather condition favorable for special agricultural products. We will adopt a pragmatic approach to ensure food sufficiency, food security, expanded employment generation and higher income levels. We will give special attention to agricultural products in which the state has comparative advantage to address the scourge of poverty. Underperforming and moribund agricultural institutions such as Agricultural Service Training Company (ASTC), Plateau Agricultural Development Programme (PADP), and the re-acquired Brewery Agro Research Company (BARC) farms, among others, shall be reinvigorated.”

Enunciating his vision on agriculture further, he said, “in the same vein, we shall take deliberate and immediate steps to procure fertilizer and other farming inputs for distribution to farmers at subsidized rates. ‘The Time is Now’ to support our small farmers through organized cooperatives. We will seek to ultimately transform small scale farming to mechanized farming and build the necessary infrastructure to enable our farmers key into dry farming practices so as to make agriculture a profitable venture for our populace.” Having made this promise to the people of Plateau State, the Governor, to match words with action, has in the one year of being in the saddle introduced several initiatives to help boost agriculture in the State as well as improve the lives of farmers. Within a few months in office, the Governor visited the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Abubakar Kyari, in his Abuja office to discuss possible areas of collaboration and support. In that visit, the Governor stressed that agriculture can be identified as a pivotal sector for overcoming the State’s developmental hurdles; and used the opportunity to express optimism that tapping into the State’s agricultural potential could address the nation’s food security and ongoing food crisis.

According to Governor Mutfwang, Plateau’s favourable climate for farming is a boon, and efforts are underway to enhance production of commodities like Irish potatoes, coffee and beef for export. He has indicated also that agriculture is no longer a mere talking point on the Plateau – it’s a critical endeavour, as he noted that “our future hinges on our agricultural success, and we’re approaching it with renewed vigour this year.”

The Minister had earlier said that the land mass in Nigeria is shrinking, as he called for assiduous collaboration with State governments and other stakeholders to resolve the challenge of food insecurity. Truly, shortly after the visit, the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development was in Plateau State for the commissioning of the Plateau Duncan Fertiliser Blending Plant in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area as part of efforts to increase the production and distribution of quality fertilizer in the state and country at large. Also, in the one year of the present administration, one major success recorded in agriculture is the resuscitation of the Agricultural Services Training Company (ASTC) in the state which was hitherto abandoned. It is now operational as it has been fully mobilized to farming communities in Mangu, Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Government Areas to assist the farmers continue with their farming activities which were abruptly interrupted and even halted by attacks on the communities. The Government has deployed 29 tractors to where about 900 hectares of land were ploughed in those communities that were affected by the recent crises. This intervention is fully complemented by the security provided by the agro-rangers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). Reports also indicate that measures have been put in place to increase the quantum of land and extend the exercise into the dry season to enable farmers continue plying their trade even after the rainy season.

Complementing the foregoing, the Plateau Agricultural Development Project (PADP) and other related government agencies have joined in these efforts; and with the current network of arrangements, it is hoped that Plateau will have enough to eat and export to other states despite the attacks that drove farmers away from their ancestral lands.

Yet, it is also to the credit of the present administration that, in order to boost agriculture in the State, the Government has earmarked the sum of N12bn, representing 7.89 percent of the 2024 budget, to the State Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to intervene in the area of farming and procurement of equipments, among others. This, according to reports, is for the provision of capital expenditure for the Ministry, the Plateau Agricultural Development Program (PADP), Plateau Agricultural Mechanisation Services Company, and the State College of Agriculture. The amount is higher than the sum allocated for the same Ministry in the previous fiscal year.

With the removal of fuel subsidy and the attendant hardship experienced by citizens, the Federal Government had provided relief materials and huge sums of money to the various State Governments to help cushion its effects. Due to the hindsight of Governor Mutfwang, and in line with his efforts to boost farming on the Plateau, the Plateau State Government acquired 200 trucks of fertiliser for distribution to citizens as part of palliative measures to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal. According to the Government, the primary objective of providing the fertilizer is to support and subsidize agriculture in order to ensure food security within the State and across the country. It also emphasized the importance of ensuring that the fertilizer is actually used for farming and stressed its commitment to boosting food production and supporting agriculture for the benefit of the people. He also reiterated the administration’s commitment to enhancing the profitability of agriculture in the state.

In a document by the State Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on its scorecard thus far, the mantra, ‘the land is green and the time is now’ speaks volume on the expectations on the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development by the present administration to transform livelihoods, diversify the economy, create job opportunities, improve incomes and standard of living of Plateau people and the country at large.

Some landmark achievements of the State Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, according to the document, is in the area of agro forestry for planting of economic trees through the Special Agricultural Processing Zones (SAP2) phase II which is to establish the SAP2 in Heipang and three collection spots in Shendam, Mangu, and Bassa, identified irrigable land to increase agricultural production in the state; and that 32,000 hectares of irrigable land has so far been identified. Smart agriculture training for youths as extension service providers in the State is part of the Ministry’s programme where 1700 youths are to be trained on smart agriculture with 100 from every LGA. This would involve the use of APPs and weather admission services to improve output, and a partnership with international Skill Acquisition Center (SAC) is to provide training for youth in innovative and integrated agricultural value chain.


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