From Lawal Sa’idu Funtua, Katsina
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Audu Ogbe has disclosed that the federal government was in talks with the governments of many countries around the world to facilitate the exportation of Nigeria’s agricultural produce to boost the country’s economy.
The minister made the disclosure yesterday in Katsina when he paid a working visit to Governor Aminu Bello Masari and to inspect the ongoing Climate Change Adaptation and Agri-business Support program being implemented by the International Agency for Agricultural Development, CASP, in some northern states.
He noted that the policies implemented by the federal government in the agric sector in the last two years were aimed at promoting the diversification drive from oil to non-oil sector.
In his interaction with Governor Aminu Bello Masari, the minister explained that so far, the ministry has identified agricultural produce of competitive advantage in each state and how their production could be multiplied in commercial quantities both as raw materials and as finished goods for exports.
He cited these products among staple foods like rice, maize, wheat and millet, and tuber crops as well as dairy products, livestock and fisheries which he said could support the Nigerian economy independent of oil revenue.
The minister identified Katsina among states with comparative advantage due to its rich soil, expansive land mass, and one of the largest number of farmers in the country.
In his remarks, Governor Aminu Bello Masari said the state government was engaged in several partnerships with the federal government, private investors and international agencies towards the enhancement of agricultural production for food security and exports.
He pointed out that the state government has already procured 225 latest model tractors from an Indian firm which he said will enhance agricultural production in the state.
The governor explained that already over five dams across the state were under rehabilitation to facilitate dry season farming which will enhance agricultural production, while the state government also supports farmers with extension services and the provision of fertilizer at subsidized rates.
He noted that government also plans to restore the pride of place of Katsina in cotton production as the state used to supply sixty percent of the cotton needed by textile industries in the country.
Alhaji Aminu Masari listed other areas of focus to include the massive production of zobo for local consumption and exports, as well as the production of tomato paste through private sector engagement.