The Federal Government of Nigeria officially flagged-off the Graduate in Irrigated Agriculture Schemes (GIAS) Program, at Kadawa Integrated Farm in Kano State on Friday, with the plan to extend it to all 109 senatorial districts of the country.
The Graduate in Irrigated Agriculture Scheme is an initiative whereby selected participants in batches of 50 will be trained in various agricultural activities including crop farming, aquaculture, dairy farming, animal husbandry for food processing and other sustainable agricultural activities.
Minister of Water Resources, Engineer Suleiman Adam who spoke at the official flag-off of the scheme expressed hope that a successful outcome of the first 12 pilot projects will be accomplished before the end of the year.
He said beneficiaries will subsequently be empowered through other government intervention programs to establish their own agric ventures or to become trainers.
“President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is a complete overhaul of the structure of our economy which has largely been dependent on crude oil for decades by largely diversifying from single export commodity to more productive activities.”
He said less than 10% of 3.12 million Ha potential of irrigable land was being developed and utilized, adding, “ I have no doubt that the step we are taking are timely and appropriate under the situation the nation find itself today, and will eventually lead Nigeria to greater economic prosperity.”
The Hadejia Jama’are River Basin Development Authority ( HJRBDA) oversees 4,500 square kilometers of land and irrigation potential of 2,400 Ha for irrigation, that developed irrigation schemes, provides direct job to 55,810 for farmers while indirect jobs are created for 781,430 people annually.
He said, “I wish to appeal to all levels of government within the beneficiary localities of the schemes to provide maximum support to this significant government investment through active participations in the operation, maintenance and management not of the schemes.”
Earlier, Engr Adamu who inspected the completed Galma Multipurpose Dam in Kaduna State and Tiga dam, Kano State which is scheduled to be completed around September 2017, said that apart from the irrigation component of the project, the multipurpose dam with a reservoir capacity of about 186 million m3 could also generate 2.2 megawatt of electricity and supply water to 2.2 million people in the surrounding communities up to the ancient city of Zaria.
He said the dam is capable of providing job opportunities for over 1.1 million people living within its environs.
The building of the dam which started in 2006 and it has reached 100 percent completion.
He commended the level of job done and charged the company to facilitate the construction of the roads for easy access.
Senator Mas’ud Doguwa, Managing Director, HJRBDA said the initiative of the Federal Government to commence (GIAS) Program, will generate employment for the youth and ensure food security.
“It is apparent that there is no other better alternative than to optimally harness the potentialities in irrigated agriculture,” he said.
He noted that for sustainable employment and income to youth all year round, that arrangement had been concluded to commence Tomato and Aquaculture component of the scheme in November, followed by wheat production component in December.
He indicated that under the initiative, indigenous private investors had keyed to the scheme by engaging the farmers as out growers, or providing assurance for ready-made market for the produce.
Husman Saliu, a participant of graduate in Irrigated agriculture schemes said, ”when I have acquired skills on fish farming under Hadejia Jama’are River Basin Authority, my dream is to become a fish farmer, so one day I will become an employer of labour.
“There is no white-collar job, so the government is creating this opportunity for us to be an entrepreneur and my advice for other youth is to be creative and not to depend on white-collar jobs.”
Also, Yusuf Abdulahi, a participant of GIAS, said, ”because of the current situation in Nigeria, a lot of graduates are just sitting at home jobless, but with this, any graduate who is serious should go into farming. My father is a farmer. I’m a computer science graduate from ABU Zaria University.
“My father advised me that if I venture into farming, that things will be alright. After my graduation in 2010, I started farming in 2012. Today I can produce 200 bags of rice which is 100kg. When I sell 200 bags of rice at N10,000 each, it will fetch me N2 million, so why would I need to be looking for government job?” He asked.
*photo shows Engr. Suleiman Adamu, speaking at the official flag-off of GIAS,