Gov. Lalong pledges to turn around Plateau`s economy through agriculture

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The Governor of Plateau, Mr Simon Lalong, has promised to turn around the economic fortunes of the state through harnessing of its huge agricultural potential.

This is contained in press statement signed by Mr Mark Longyen, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.

The statement quoted Lalong as saying that government was leveraging on the benefits of public and private sector investment through partnership to achieve the goal of diversifying its economy to agriculture.

“To this end, the Plateau State Government, in partnership with the World Bank Support Scheme, established Fadama Micro Finance Bank in November 2015, awaiting final Central Bank of Nigeria`s licensing.

“This is essentially to provide farmers with the necessary funding for farming, which is an innovative approach, the first of its kind in Nigeria and 2nd in Africa.

“ Government has in the last one year leveraged on the attendant benefits of foreign intervention funds to boost the state’s agricultural sector and paid the counterpart sum of over N105 million for World Bank`s intervention projects.

“ The state has so far accessed over N400 million from the Bank, while awaiting to access additional 10 million US dollars to execute more projects on our three Value Chain Crops of Irish Potato, Tomatoes and Rice, “ the governor said.

He added that the state would soon venture into large scale mechanised farming through public-private partnership.

The governor also re-stated his administration`s determination to re-acquire the state`s farm – the BARC Farm, adding that the government would spend N1.5 billion to purchase the farm.

“ Government has already taken measures to increase the existing number of 400 tractors to 800 tractors to facilitating the purchase of tractors through a 4-year supplier credit, with 40% subsidy by the government.

“These will boost the state’s food production, the exportation of fresh farm produce via the soon-to-take-off Heipang Inland Container Dry Port and supply raw materials to the Jos International Breweries when it is revived, “ he said.

Lalong said the state government recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a private firm, Solbec Limited, to revive the abandoned 65-year-old state-owned Panyam Fish Farm under a PPP arrangement.

“The company, which is the largest fish farm in Nigeria and West Africa, covering a land mass of 309 hectares, has the capacity to produce about 4.9 tonnes of fish and over 10 million fingerlings annually.

“When it becomes fully operational, the farm’s annual revenue generating potential for the state will hit about N1.7 billion, an amount that is more than the monthly salary of government workers.

“The state, with over 1,000 abandoned mining ponds, 20 dams and reservoirs, 673 hectares of water surface area, 12 natural lakes and unique, clement climatic conditions, has huge aquatic and fisheries potential,“ the governor said.

Lalong said the state would key into the Ranching Policy of the Federal Government, adding that it was considering its implementation after due consultations in order to boost livestock farming.

He added that the state government was determined to boost agriculture through effective utilisation of the services of the Agricultural Services and Training Centres and Marketing Company (ASTC)

“ It would be adequately funded to enable it to provide agricultural inputs, services and introduce modern farming techniques with a view to transforming rural subsistence agriculture into commercial enterprises,“ the governor said. (NAN)

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