Resetting Kogi’s Agric Sector for Food Security
By Hafsat Bello
Globally, agriculture plays a major role in economic development and national growth. Hence, its value, which cannot be overemphasised, is immeasurable.
In the era preceding the oil boom, agriculture was the main driver of Nigeria’s economy. It provided a viable means of livelihood for teeming Nigerians, especially the rural dwellers.
According to dieticians, quality foods are essential for the physical and mental development of a healthy population of citizens.
It is axiomatic to assert that healthy foods, after air and water, provide us with vital nutrients and energy for growth, which in the long run, boost the mental capacity of man, and also maintain life, while stimulating growth.
In Kogi, where Alhaji Yahaya Bello is purposefully piloting the affairs of the State, utmost commitment and priority has never been accorded to agriculture, than now.
Conscious of the fact that the agricultural value chain has the potential to boost food production not only for Kogi State, but the country at large, Governor Bello is not leaving anything to chance.
He is aggressively evolving and implementing policies that are changing the narrative of subsistence and commercial food production, in The Confluence State.
That Kogi is an agrarian State endowed with arable land, suitable for cultivating cash and staple crops for commercial purposes is a common knowledge.
Kogi State prides itself as the largest producer of cassava in Nigeria. An uncommon vision of Governor Bello for Kogi is not only to diversify the State’s economy, but also to adopt the policy of its citizens consuming what is locally-produced.
Hence, his administration has not wavered in supporting both peasant and commercial crop farmers in Kogi.
Recall that in 2017, Governor Bello had declared a State of Emergency in Kogi’s agricultural sector. This was aimed at triggering a revolution that will bolster food production and also accelerate the diversification of the State’s economy.
As part of Governor Bello’s efforts to guarantee food security for the people of Kogi, he recently inaugurated 100 tractors, which were immediately distributed to farmers across the 21 Local Government Areas of the State.
According to Governor Bello, the tractors, which would be leased at subsidised rates, are meant for farmers and youths involved in commercial agriculture, in the State.
He expressed belief that by the time the ‘heavy-duty farm inputs’ get to the targeted beneficiaries, it will help in creating additional jobs and also income for the people of the State.
Women who are into farming in The Confluence State are also singing the praises of Governor Bello, who is doing everything to support them, and their trade.
Just about a month ago, Governor Bello, in Lokoja, the State Capital, flagged-off the distribution of assorted agricultural items to over a thousand women farmers in the state.
Perhaps due to Kogi’s strides in cassava production and processing, Governor Bello, in November 2020, was conferred with an award in recognition of his partnership and support for cassava and rice value-chain development in Nigeria.
Equally, it is gratifying to note that the Bello administration in Kogi State established one of the biggest rice mills in the country, at Ejiba, in Yagba West Local Government Area of the State.
Known as Kogi Confluence Rice Mill, the mega processing facility was constructed at the sum of N4 billion, and sits on a vast land of about 800 hectares.
With a capacity to produce 50 tons of processed rice per day, the Kogi Confluence Rice Mill, is expected to create over 6,000 jobs for Kogites.
The seriousness, zeal and commitment Governor Yahaya has displayed towards revamping Kogi’s agricultural sector, since assuming office in 2016, is matchless.
It is only a matter of time before Kogi usurps the slogan of ‘The Food Basket of the Nation’ from Benue State, judging by the tempo with which Governor Bello is revolutionising agriculture in The Confluence State.