Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has warned unscrupulous government officials not to engage in any untoward act that would undermine government’s effort at making fertilizer and other farm input accessible to farmers in the state for sustainable food security and accelerated improvement in the livelihood of the Benue people.
To address the problems farmers encountered in the past in accessing the commodity, the government, he said has through the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources engaged vendors to supply fertilizers to farmers at highly subsidized prices.
Governor Ortom, who spoke today at Yakpande-Ikpayongo, Gwer East local government area of the state while flagging off the 2018 cropping season and sale and distribution of fertilizer and other farm inputs, said the government shall closely monitor the sale and distribution of the products. He announced that one bag of 50kg of fertilizer irrespective of brand would cost N4,000; a litre of liquid organic fertilizer shall be sold at N2,000 while one litre of Plant Health Promoter shall go for N3,500.
Governor Ortom who was represented by his deputy, Engr Benson Abounu, warned that anyone who short changes farmers shall be dealt with administratively and legally.
He disclosed that in partnership with the World Bank, 347 kilometres of rural roads shall be reconstructed in the state to facilitate the movement of farm produce from the farms to the markets. The project, which costs N33.7b will see the State government paying a counterpart fund of N938.6m.
Among other goodies for farmers in the state, Governor Ortom announced the release of N100m to Better Life Micro Finance Bank for administration to women cooperatives as loan facilities for agricultural development. Approval, he said has been given for the purchase of 50 brand new Massey Ferguson tractors to be given to farmers in the state at 40% of its cost. Similarly, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning has been directed to release the counterpart fund for FADAMA III additional financing and the IFAD-assisted cassava and rice value chain development programme to ensure the sustenance of good agronomic practices that would make life better for the rural farmers.
While upbeat about what his government has for the farmers in the state, Governor Ortom was however subdued and distraught by the continuous attack on the farming communities in the state, the lack of access to farmlands by those displaced by the attacks by Fulani herdsmen and the impact it would have for food production and sufficiency in the country.
He called on the military to increase the tempo of their operation in the state and flush out the invaders who have made farming almost impossible for the tens of thousands of people displaced from their homes.
Speaking earlier, State commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, James Anbua thanked Governor Samuel Ortom for his consistent support to his ministry, seen in the approval and timely release of funds for the implementation of numerous programmes and his commitment to making agriculture the engine room of the industrialisation drive of the state through the meticulous execution of the State Agricultural policy document.
He called on farmers in the state to form functional and active cooperatives to access various farm inputs, including the 50 brand new tractors to be purchased by the government to boost food production and maintain the position of the state as the food basket of the nation.
Chairman, Gwer East local government Council, Hon. Vitalis Uaah and the chairman, AFAN, Benue state, Aondona Kuhe in their separate messages commended Governor Samuel Ortom for his support to farmers in the state and his timely provision of fertilizer and other farm inputs. They expressed hope that the attack by herdsmen would abate for the people to maximise the use of their land for agricultural purposes.
The event was witnessed by many traditional rulers, prominent farmers and politicians, as well as agricultural experts.
By Ede Ogaba Ede