From Yakubu Mustapha, Minna
Niger state Government and traditional rulers in the state have resolved to give maximum support for the mass cultivation of Jatropha plant, as a way of improving the economic base of farmers in the state.
The state government set up a five man committee of Commissioners to advise it on the role the government will play in the regional workshop scheduled for Minna next month.
The emirs of Minna Dr Umar Farouq Bahago and that of Suleja Mallam Mohammed Awal Ibrahim directed their subjects to participate actively in the proposed forum.
Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu, who constituted the Committee when members of the planning committee for the Jatropha workshop called on him at the Government House, directed the panel to mobilize farmers in the state to go into mass cultivation of the plant because of its economic value.
The Governor also asked the committee headed by the commissioner for Agriculture, Professor Mohammed Kuta Yahaya to advise the government on the areas it would collaborate with the planning committee for a success of the programme.
Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu stressed that establishment of a jatropha refinery in the northern part of the country will be the answer of the region to its economic problems because the refinery will be able to produce diesel while its byproducts will also fetch for the region unlimited funds which will transform the lives of the ordinary people.
Speaking when the planning committee paid a sensitization visit to both the emir of Minna. Dr Umar Farouq and that of Suleja, Mallam Awal Ibrahim, the two monarchs assured the committee of the readiness of their emirates to join in the mass cultivation of the plant.
While Dr Umar Farouq Bahago directed all the districts and village heads in the emirate to cultivate at least one hectare of the plant, Mallam Awal Ibrahim said he would open up a minimum of ten hectares of land for the cultivation of the crop.
In addition, they assured that they will sponsor some farmers in the emirates to the workshop so that they would not be left behind.
Earlier, the Chairman of the planning committee, Mallam Garba Attahiru explained the benefits of cultivation of the plant to both the governor and the traditional rulers saying that apart from the income generating capacity of the plant, its mass cultivation will also protect the environment against desert encroachment.
Attahiru, said that the plant could also be used for the production of antiseptic soaps and antibiotic drugs.
The planning committee chairman said the workshop which will attract participants from the 19 northern states will hold at the convocation square of the Niger State College of Education, Minna.