The Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority (RBDA) says it has been assisting farmers with expertise and farmlands to boost food production in the states under its domain.
Speaking in Makurdi, Mr Mohammed Adra, the Managing Director of Lower Benue RBDA, said his organisation had acquired farmlands which it had been leasing to farmers.
He said that the agricultural extension services of Lower Benue RBDA had been revived to assist farmers and boost their productivity with the proper application of inputs and the right approach towards farming.
“I am happy to inform you that with the focus of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration on agriculture, farm extension services, which were hitherto ignored, have been revived to make sure that farmers are reasonably guided,’’ he said.
Besides, Adra said that efforts were underway to procure 15 water pumps to boost direct irrigation activities.
He also said that farmers were being encouraged improve on their productivity, while some developed lands have been leased to them for maximum output.
He said that the Authority was also encouraging private sector organisations to venture into farming via the provision of farmlands and extension services.
Adra said that the focus of the Authority’s partnership with the private sector was on commercial farming ventures with a focus on crop growing for both local consumption and exports.
He said that the organisation was also encouraging farmers in its domain to grow crops in which they had comparative advantages over others.
He said that such crops included beniseed, soybean, Irish potato and melon.
The managing director said that his organisation was also pursuing its mandate of harnessing water bodies — both surface and underground water – to make them accessible to the farmers.
Adra said the Authority was constructing 10 earth dams across the states in its catchment area to boost all-year farming.
He said that some of the dams were nearly completed, while others were at the launching stage, adding, however, that all the dams would be completed to make them useful to farmers.
He, however, said that the organisation’s irrigation activities were hampered by the fact that some of its irrigation systems were solely powered by electricity.
He said that one of such systems called the “Central Pivot Irrigation System’’, which was highly sophisticated, became non-functional because of the poor electricity supply in the state.
Adra, however, warned against encroachment into the lands of the Authority, saying that “anyone interested in farming on our lands should follow the due process”.
He assured farmers of the willingness of the Authority to support their efforts to boost their productivity.
“We will surely provide the basic facilities that the farmers need, this includes water, irrigation system, farmlands and access to good roads.”
States covered by the Authority include Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa and Kogi.