By Sani Idris
The Niger Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is seeking partnership with value seeds in Zaria, to boost agriculture toward achieving food security in the state.
The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Idris Gbogan, said this when led a delegation to visit Premier Seeds and the National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI) in Zaria, Kaduna State on Saturday.
Gbogan said that the visit was to discuss possible collaborations to encourage agricultural productivity.
He said that Niger government had launched an agricultural policy and investment plan which was a guiding document for agricultural stakeholders in the state.
According to him, the aim of the visit was to enhance the agricultural sector toward achieving economic values aimed at developing the state and leveraging on its large land mass.
“We are out here today to explore avenues of possible collaboration to improve our farmers income because of the potentials we have that are untapped and yet to be explored.
“The visit to Value Seeds and Premier Seeds is to look for growers schemes for farmers by supporting them with inputs, skills and modern ideas in food production.
“We are looking at possible ways that Premier Seeds can open a branch in Niger so that it can serve as a hub to supply seeds to North Central,” the permanent secretary said.
He also said that their visit to NAPRI was because Niger had the second largest grazing reserve in Nigeria developed by the state.
“We are trying to see how we can strengthen the grazing reserves by bringing in NAPRI and to see how we can operationalise it.
“Niger has what it takes to feed the nation, that is why we are here to solicit for your collaboration.
“We need your support, we need the seed companies in consent with our team to put up a robust and measurable plan in developing our agricultural sector,” he said.
Gbogan said that the vision of Gov. Abubakar Bello led administration was to make Niger the Nigeria’s new agricultural hub.
He stressed that the partnership would avail farmers and extension workers in the state opportunity to tap from the expertise in seedling.
He said that it would also impact same to other farmers in their communities to improve production.
Mr George Zangir, Co-founder and President of value seeds, while conducting the permanent secretary and his entourage round, expressed delight over the visit, saying that they looked forward to a robust partnership with the state government.
Zangir said that value seeds had rolled out plans to assist and engage women farmers with trainings and empowerment in agricultural line toward enhancing productivity.
Also, Executive Director of NAPRI, Prof. Abdullahi Kolo, said the institute would partner with the ministry to actualise its livestock transformation agenda.
Kolo noted that NAPRI had in the past years trained youths from the state on skills acquisition.
He said that the livestock sector had a lot of opportunities for intending investors, farmers and state governments to explore.
“We will continue to partner and collaborate in various ways possible to ensure that Niger achieve its goals in achieving substantial growth and development in its agricultural sector”, kolo said.
Also, in his remarks, the Country Director of Synergos, Mr Victor Adejoh, said the collaboration was a capacity strengthening projects for the ministry.
“The project is funded by the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Synergos is providing the technical assistance under the project for the ministry of agriculture,” Adejoh said.
He further said that the state had held two-day leadership training for senior management staff of the ministry and implemented an activity called the ”exchange programme”.
He said that the activity was targeted at having field knowledge of partnership and collaboration to enhance coordination in the agricultural sector.
“This will also help win private sector into the agricultural sector to bring about increased investment,” Adejoh said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the entourage was taken round the dairy processing unit, feed centre, cow, camel and donkey sheds at NAPRI. (NAN)