By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
As part of efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy of the state, Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, has inspected 500 hectares of land in Doma, allocated for youth empowerment in agriculture.
Engineer Sule, who visited the facility in company of the Managing Director, Lower Benue River Development Authority, Engineer Mohammed Addra, on Tuesday, said it has become necessary to undertake a feasibility tour of the area in order to expedite action on his administration’s youth agricultural programme.
The Governor expressed concern that once COVID-19 is over, the country’s fragile economy, is going to face some major challenges, particularly economic challenge and that Nasarawa State is going to be at the receiving end when that happens.
Engineer Sule said that explained the need for the state to hasten action on its commercial agriculture programme, as well as small scale holders, especially youths.
He disclosed that Nasarawa State, being agrarian, will leverage on agriculture during the post-COVID-19 period, in order to provide employment opportunities for youth in the state.
To this end, Engineer Sule pointed out that recently, the state entered into an agreement with the LBRDA, to access 500 hectares of land around the Doma Dam, which he said, will be partitioned into one hectare each for the CBN/NIRSAL youth empowerment programme.
“I am happy with what I have seen. It’s a lot of work that needs to be done to convey water from the dam all the way to the 500 hectares given to us, so that we can irrigate, and be able to carry out two season of rice farming,” he stated.
The Governor however said a lot of work need to be done in order to enable the youths cultivate rice in two seasons.
“I felt it was necessary for me to come and see the location of the dam in connection to the land given to us. To see what we need to do, are we going to irrigate? Are we going to cultivate rice so that we have two seasons of rice? Instead of one season if it is rain fed.
“With the dam, we can have irrigation. So I want to see opportunities for the irrigation. Is the dam supposed to be feeding the field by gravity or we need to be pumping? Do we have all the structures for pumping into the field for irrigation? These are all the opportunities that I came to see. And so far so good, I am happy with what I have seen,” Engineer Sule said.
The Governor was emphatic that he desired the youths to have two seasons of rice farming, so that they can be able to earn throughout the year, with the Doma project expected to accommodate 1000 youths.
He disclosed further that Akwanga LGA is another location for the youth empowerment programme in agriculture, around the Mada River, where another 1500 youths will be engaged.
“My whole idea is that we want to make sure that the youth are self-employed throughout the year and then we will be working towards our food security programme,” the Governor said.
He was accompanied on the inspection visit by top government functionaries including the Commissioner for Agriculture and Water Resource, Professor Alananah Otaki, Special Adviser on Youths and Sport, Hon. Yakubu Kwanta and the Senior Special Assistant on SDGs, Mallam Murtala Abubakar, among others.