Plateau State is the twelfth largest state of Nigeria, and is roughly located in the center of the country. The Plateau Commissioner for Agriculture, Steve Bako said on Thursday that the state was set to export rice by 2015. as the state had put necessary machinery to achieve the target.
Agric commissioner said that Plateau had enough wetland for rice production, spread across its three senatorial zones. He said that Nigeria had no business importing rice to feed its people owing to the vast potentials it had in rice production.
The commissioner said the country must put up the right structure to not only produce rice for domestic consumption but also for export.
He said that the state government would use its Agricultural Services Training Centres, ASTC, to drive the rice value chain.
Bako also said the government would provide the infrastructure and the right atmosphere to drive the sector, which is 90 per cent private sector-driven.
The commissioner said that the government had provided needed mechanised components to assist farmers meet the demands of mechanised agriculture for export.
“The mechanised aspect is complete in Plateau, we have machinery for ploughing, ridging and weed control, and we can do all these in a mechanised way.
“In the area of rice production, we have combined harvesters and nine tractors in each of the three senatorial zones for hire by large scale farmers for a token, “ he said.
The commissioner said that the ASTC, which was a partnership with the Israeli government, was equipped with the needed manpower and spare parts with which to service its machinery.
According to him, the ASTC has 100 tractors for hire in each of the three senatorial zones and offers fertiliser to farmers at subsidised rate.
“Mechanised farming is cheaper as we buy a bag of fertiliser for N5, 400 and sell to farmers at N4, 000.
“Besides, our extension services driven by the Plateau Agriculture Development Programme also reach out to small farmers with needed information for better yields,“ Bako said.
He therefore called on large scale farmers to take advantage of the services provided by ASTC to boost their production capacity.