President Muhammadu Buhari has directed his ministers of agriculture to work with the states to rediscover lost animal grazing routes and reserves as part of measures to curb the frequent outbreak of violence between farmers and herders.
The president said Nigerian farmers stand to reap the benefits of his government’s reforms as he continues to accord the highest priority to agriculture, describing it as the country’s largest employer of labour and engine of growth.
Speaking yesterday at a meeting with Katsina State Elders Forum at the presidential villa, the president rolled out his administration’s plans for farmers, saying he will continue to take steps to enhance output and productivity by ensuring the availability of cheap agricultural credits, farm inputs, fertilizer and the introduction of latest technologies.
President 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 Katsina elders for the expansion of existing irrigation schemes at Zobe and Sabke dams to enhance employment and profitability in agriculture.
According to him, 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.
He also pressed the necessity of educating school-age children, saying 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,” a statement by presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, quoted the president as saying.
Buhari also broached the issue of armed banditry and kidnapping that had bedevilled Katsina and other northwestern states, just as he assured that the situation will be overcome in the same way the farmer-herders attacks were subdued.
Leader of the delegation, Alhaji Aliyu Balarabe Saulawa representing the chairman, Alhaji Ahmadu Kurfi, Maradin Katsina, commended the president for returning peace to most parts of the state and for the various infrastructure projects, including the Kano – Jigawa-Katsina – Maradi rail link.
They welcomed the recent decision by government to elongate the service of teachers and improve their condition of service.