Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has announced the setting aside of 5,000 hectares of farm land from the Federal Capital Development Authority’s (FCDA’s) 15,000 hectares of farm land for youths and women, as part of a ‘Farm for Life Scheme’ of his Ministry.
The Minister made this disclosure on Tuesday, 25th October, 2016 when he led Journalists to the site of the farm land in Kerikete community of Kwali Area Council, Abuja.
Chief Ogbeh said the scheme is to create opportunities for women and youth farmers, with the aim of supporting them with necessary infrastructure to attract various levels of agro investments.
He stated that some level of infrastructural development, like roads (which was seen by the Journalists), have been carried out in the farm land, while others, like lakes and dams, would be jointly developed with the management and developers of the farm land. He added that Government would assist the youth and women, all year round to ensure fresh crops for Nigerians always, and also for export.
The Minister also informed that adequate security is being worked on to ensure that the entire farm is secured. He stated that the private sector is expected to play a big role in the development of the farm land, and that the sustainable plan for the scheme beyond the current administration is contained in the Green Alternative policy, launched this year by the Ministry.
The Minister disclosed that about 3,000 youths and women are expected to come into the scheme, which would be replicated in other States of the federation. “We are already in discussions with State Governors on land allocations within their States, and the responses have been good”, the Minister stated. He assured that Government would be equitable in sharing the land, so that it is not hijacked by big time farmers.
General Manager of Aso Savings, Managers of the farm land, Mr. Enesi Makoju, who accompanied the Minister on the visit said his bank had invested over a billion naira on infrastructural development of the land, and had received well over 300 subscribers to date. He informed that responses from local and foreign investors so far have been encouraging, and that will continue.
Managing Director of Bank of Industry, Prof. Danbala Danju whose bank is also supporting the scheme and was on the Minister’s entourage, stated that there is huge demand in agriculture, but the finances and investments are limited. According to him, as a result of this gap in demand and supply, his bank is making efforts to make funds available to support this scheme and other agricultural projects to ensure enough food for Nigerians, and also export. He added that the bank would adhere to a single digit interest rate for those who will participate in the scheme.