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Plateau State Agriculture Services trains 4000 farmers

By Gloria Thomas

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Plateau state is known for a variety of food crops, vegetables and fruits which set it apart from other states of the country. Rice, maize, millet, yams, potatoes, cassava, cocoa yam plus carrots, cabbage, peas and countless others are grown in the state all year round.

Farmers across the state are trained to improve on their farming methods for better yield and profit by an organisation set up specifically for that purpose.

The Agric Services Training Centre and Marketing, ASTC&M Limited was set up over ten years ago to help farmers meet up with the times in agriculture and be at the top of the food chain, produce wise.

Managing Director of ASTC&M, Dr. Susan Bentu said, “Currently, the Plateau State Government, being the major shareholder, through the effort of the Governor Simon Lalong released funds for the repair of some of our tractors and harvesters including the upgrading of the Milky Way Diary Farm in Bokkos. The Dairy Farm is now expanded. New Breed of Frezian Cows have been stocked to increase the number of cows, a new processing line has been installed and the general environment of the farm and factory is upgraded. The production of Yoghurt and other dairy products meet market demands daily.”

Dr. Bentu said the funding also enabled commercial rice farming during the last farming season. “we cultivated 1500 hectares of rice farms located in Shendam local government area, we hope to continue rice farming due to the successes we recorded. Moreso, arrangements are at advanced stage to transform the greenhouses in Vom ,Jos South local government area from demonstration farms to fully commercial farms.”

The Managing Director explained that “ASTC&M Ltd introduced Plateau farmers to modern and better farming methods, through improved seeds and seedlings, and best farm practices.

We offer training and have already trained over 4,000 farmers. We offer services in all aspects of agriculture both to small and large scale farmers. Our impact includes the number of Green Houses evident on the Plateau. Some of our trainees have gone beyond the state, building Green Houses for interested farmers.”

Calling on farmers to feel free to access the services of ASTC&M Ltd, Dr. Bentu  said, We also want to inform farmers that our doors are always open; interested persons can always approach us to find out what we are doing and how we can help.”

Bentu explained that the company, which came into being in 2009, was an initiative of the Plateau state government and an Israeli company, to provide top grade and modern Agricultural services to the people.

The Agreement, according to Bentu stipulated that ASTC&M Limited was to provide subsidised Agric services, inputs and training to farmers on the Plateau for five years, adding that “the intention was to build the capacity of Plateau farmers and introduce them to modern and profitable farming methods.

 

She said the partnership worked very well as knowledge was transfered to primary beneficiaries, being the farmers, as the company is gradually transitioning into a commercial venture that would add to internally generated revenue of Plateau State.

Dr. Susan Bentu said the down side of the agreement is the transfer of cost to the farmers as the state government would no longer be responsible for financing its services but the cost would not be out of the reach of farmers.

The agriculture services training centre and marketing limited has helped improve the quality of products grown on the Plateau such as potatoes, rice, maize, wheat and vegetables.

 

Dominica Nwabufo

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