President Muhammadu Buhari has said that Nigerian farmers stand to reap the benefits of his government’s reforms as he continues to accord the highest priority to agriculture.
Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, in a statement in Abuja on Friday, said Buhari stated this at a meeting with Katsina State Elders Forum in Abuja.
The president, who described agriculture as the country’s largest employer of labour and engine of growth, said his administration would continue to take steps to enhance output and productivity.
“This will be achieved by ensuring the availability of cheap agricultural credits, farm inputs, fertiliser and the introduction of latest technologies,” the statement quoted Buhari as saying.
Buhari said the choice of practicing farmers as ministers in charge of agriculture, first Chief Audu Ogbe and now, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, was a reflection of his strong wish to protect the interest of farmers and the attainment of national food self-sufficiency.
He agreed to look into the request of the elders for the expansion of existing irrigation schemes at Zobe and Sabke dams to enhance employment and profitability in agriculture.
He maintained that a situation in which 60 per cent of the state is productive in rain-fed agriculture for three to four months, and idle for the rest of the year, was unacceptable.
The president told the meeting that he had charged his ministers of agriculture to work with the states to rediscover the lost animal grazing routes and reserves as a means to ending the frequent outbreak of violence between farmers and herders.
He also pressed the necessity of educating school-age children, declaring that “once the opportunity of early education is lost, it often turns out very difficult for them to make up.
“This is the best preparation we can give to them. We destroy their lives by denying children education,” he pointed out.
Buhari also broached the issue of armed banditry and kidnapping that had bedevilled Katsina and other northwestern states, and said that the situation was being tackled the same way the farmer-herders attacks were subdued.
The leader of the delegation, Alhaji Aliyu Saulawa, who represented Alhaji Ahmadu Kurfi, Chairman of the forum, commended the president for returning peace to most parts of the state and for the various infrastructure projects, especially the Kano-Jigawa-Katsina-Maradi rail link.
They welcomed the recent decision by government to elongate the service of teachers and improve their conditions of service.