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PRESENTATION BY THE HONOURABLE COMMISSIONER, MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES, HON. ANBUA H. JAMES ON THE OCCASION OF THE TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY PRESS BRIEFING AT NUJ HOUSE, ON MONDAY, 20TH FEBRUARY, 2017. I am elated and honoured to stand before you, gentlemen of the press, by extension the people of Benue State and Nigerians at large to loudly give account of the Ortom led administration in the area of agriculture, which I have the privilege to oversee as the Commissioner. The Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources is saddled with the responsibility of formulating and implementing policies, projects and programmes of government for the development of the agricultural sector of the state. You are all aware that, over the years, the country has been over dependent on oil which indeed has become a bane to other sectors of the economy. Agriculture which provides a broad base foundation for economic development is therefore the viable alternative. This scenario no doubt is a great advantage to Benue State which is the home of Agriculture in Nigeria. It is in consideration of this that the Ortom led administration in Benue State from inception beamed its focus on developing agriculture in the state beyond peasantry. To achieve this, the structure and apparatus of the Ministry are being strengthened. The Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources operates seven (7) directorates including:
  1. Administrative and supply
  2. Agricultural services
  • Livestock services
  1. Engineering services
  2. Fisheries
  3. Planning, research and statistics
  • Finance and accounts
There are also Agricultural Institutions, parastatals and agencies through which not only services are delivered to farmers but also agricultural activities are under taken for the overall development of agriculture in the state. They include:
  1. Benue State Agriculture and Rural Development Authority (BNARDA)
  2. Benue State Tractor Hiring Agency (BENTHA)
  • Akperan Orshi College of Agriculture, Yandev (AOCAY)
  1. Agricultural Training Centre, Mbatie
  2. Agricultural Vocational Centre, Otobi
  3. Livestock Investment and Breeding, Raav
The ministry is running agricultural programmes including:
  1. Fadama III
  2. IFAD Rice and Cassava Value Chain Development Programme
  • Benue Swine/Crop Integrated Improvement Project
  1. Bill gate Foundation Synergos
  2. German International Cooperation (GIZ)
  3. SASAKAWA Africa Association (SAA)
  • Harvest Plus
ACHIEVEMENTS MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES Renovation of Office Blocks When I assumed office as the Commissioner of Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, I had cause to go round to assess the assets. It was disheartening to see that staff were sharing offices with reptiles due to overgrown weeds, bushes and trees around office premises. Some offices had their roof blown off. To provide a conducive work environment, the Ministry utilized the resources at our disposal to renovate office blocks at the Divisional Agric Office, Gaadi. In the same vein, other office blocks at the Ministry Headquarters have also been renovated. The effort at renovating office blocks and clearing the premises have made the offices habitable and conducive for service delivery. Farmers Summit In consideration of the poor and unacceptable situation where 80% of the Benue population who are depending on agriculture as a source of employment, sustenance and livelihood still employ traditional agricultural methods, the Ortom administration at inception saw the need to overhaul the agricultural sector in the state by conveying the first Farmers Summit co-hosted by State Ministry of Agriculture and All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Benue State Chapter. In order to generate ideas and pull knowledge to forge a new and collective approach to the development of the sector. Fertilizer distribution The Ministry awarded contract to five fertilizer vendors that supplied a total of 4,200 metric tons on equivalent of 165 trucks of assorted brands of fertilizer to Benue farmers. Also supplied was 8,120 litres of liquid organic fertilizer. Under this contract arrangement, government is only liable for the subsidy component of the quantity of fertilizer redeemed by farmers. To this end, government has committed a total sum of N279,428,000.00 (two hundred and seventy nine million, four hundred and twenty eight thousand naira) only for the payment of fertilizer redeemed by farmers to procure fertilizer for Benue farmers. This approach has to a large extent, reduce the financial stress on government in the procurement of fertilizers annually to Benue State farmers and at the same time reduced waste experienced along the channel of distribution, as well reduce fraud associated with the delivery of fertilizer to desired destinations. Fertilizer Blending Plant Having considered the tremendous importance and need to provide Benue farmers with quality and affordable fertilizers for improved yields, government has approved the lease of the Benue State Fertilizer Blending Plant to K and R Corporate Resources Ltd. The company is working towards commencing production before the end of March, 2017 which will complement other sources of fertilizer procurement to farmers. Procurement of tractors The state government has awarded contract for supply of 60 units of tractors to the tune of N660 million to enhance the agricultural mechanization policy of the state and reduce farm drudgery and increase land under cultivation. Under this arrangement the tractors would be sold to farmers at a subsidized rate of 40% while the farmers would pay 60% of the tractor before redemption. Avian Influenza control The Ministry within the period under review has successfully contained Avian Influenza outbreak in Otukpo Local Government Area. Anti-rabbis vaccination Currently the Ministry is implementing free anti-rabbis vaccination throughout the state. The Federal Government supplied a total of 1,000 vials anti-rabbis vaccines to which the State Government has committed the sum of N2,500,000 for successful administration. Food Security Owing to the great concern and effort of the Samuel Ortom administration, Benue State is enlisted as a partner with the Nigeria Zero Hunger Forum. And Benue State has been chosen as one of the five (5) pilot states among Sokoto, Ebonyi, Ogun and Borno for the implementation of the programme in Nigeria. The technical partners supporting the forum include, IITA, AFDB, WFP, FAO, UNICEF and IFAD. Benue State has the first hosting right of the forum in June, 2017. With this forum, the partners will consider the advantages and challenges of agricultural production in the state and provide both technical and financial assistance for greater food production in order to ensure a hunger free Benue and Nigeria at large. Renovation at Akperan Orshi College of Agriculture, Yandev
  1. In a bid to fast track the provision of adequate facilities at the college, government aptly terminated abandoned contracts for the renovation of classrooms, administrative blocks, laboratories, hostels and equipment. These contracts have been re-awarded for completion at the sum of N80,036,908.25 (eighty million, thirty six thousand, nine hundred and eighty naira, twenty five kobo) only.
  2. Also, other classrooms, laboratories and hostels at Akperan Orshi College of Agriculture, Yandev have been renovated at the sum of N52,854,365.75 for conducive teaching and learning environment.
  3. Within the period government awarded contract for laboratories equipment and water installation at Akperan Orshi College of Agriculture, Yandev at the sum of N27,182,542.50.
BENUE STATE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (BNARDA) Benue State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority has the overall responsibility of initiating and implementing agricultural extension programmes which impacts directly on rural farmers, introducing new and improved breeds methods, while sensitizing and building capacity of rural farmers. In line with the vision of the administration, the authority has recorded modest achievements within year 2016 as follows:
  1. Built the capacity of 1,500 cassava farmers and 1,000 rice farmers in Good Agricultura Practices (GAP) through the SASAKAWA Africa Association Programme on rice and cassava value chain. This to a large extent has improved farmers cassava and rice yield in the state.
  2. Supplied improved breeds of goats including 65 does, 13 bucks to women at Kwande, K/Ala, Vandeikya, Otukpo, Okpokwu, Oju and Apa Local Government Areas as well as carried out vaccination of birds against diseases.
iii.        To give machinery support to farmers in the State, one rice milling machine with destoner was supplied to beer rice producers/processors at Fiidi, while one garri processing equipment supplied to Aine and Aine Ihotu Garri Processing Group.
  1. The Authority has acquired one double cabin Ford pickup and 20 motorcycles to support extension activities.
  2. Also under the SASAKAWA Project maize/cassava inter-cropping fertilizer trials were conducted in 60 farms across the state with target achievement.
  3. Under the Geman International Cooperation (GIC), the Authority has been able to build the capacity of 3,780 farmers on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and 2,400 farmers on Farmer Business School (FBS) on rice value chain. This programme is ongoing. Also 20 motorcycles were supplied to support extension activities.
Made available to farmers’ use, 3.2 metric tons of improved and certified seeds of soyabean, 6.3 metric tons of rice, 2.5 metric tons of maize as well as beniseed and cowpea.
  1. Intensified the multiplication and distribution through Harvest Plus. To this end, a total of 12,519, cassava stems were distributed to households while 850 bundles of Vitamin A cassava stems and yellow potatoes stems have been distributed to Benue State farmers with the assistance of Bill and Milinda Gates Foundation. This to a large extent has increased Vitamin A intake and improved the immunity of Benue citizens.
  2. Conducted training for a total of 13,020 (thirteen thousand and twenty) farmers on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for rice, soyabean, maize and cassava for enhanced productivity.
iii.        Established 2 model villages at Mu-Makurdi Local Government Area and Mase-Gwer East Local Government under Harvest Plus for the purpose of intensifying agricultural activities in the state.
  1. We have also established 16 Point of Sale (POS).
  Also, the authority has 40.3 Ha for direct multiplication of stem and 9.5 Ha for commercial multiplication of stem.   IFAD-RICE AND CASSAVA VALUE CHAIN DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME   The achievements made in this sector within the period under review are:
  1. release of the sum of N166,000,000.00 (one hundred and sixty six million naira) only being outstanding arrears of counterpart funds for the project, leading to the smooth take-off and implementation of the programme in the state.
  2. The cumulative impact of the project on Benue farmers has led to the improvement of yield in the rice and cassava enterprises from 1.2 MTS and 13 MTS prior to the take-off of the project to 3.5 MTS and 25 MTS per hectare for rice and cassava respectively in the 2016 cropping season. This improvement in yield is attributed to the quality farm inputs and good agronomic practices farmers are receiving under the programme.
  3. The programme has supported 2,308 (two thousand, three hundred and eight) hectares of farm land under rice cultivation.
  4. A total of 2,000 (two thousand) hectares of farm land has been supported under cassava production in the state.
  5. A total of 7,309 (seven thousand, three hundred and nine) farmers from 409 (four hundred and nine) groups in the state are participating in the IFAD-rice and cassava chain development programme.
  6. Developed and cleared land for smooth take-off of crops production under the programme. A total of 555 (five hundred and fifty five) hectares, comprising of 130 hectares in Guma, 80 hectares in Logo, 45 hectares in Gwer-East, 150 hectares in Okpokwu and 150 hectares in Ogbadibo have been cleared and developed for farmers use towards the production of cassava and rice.
  7. To ensure that farmers produce do not suffer from poor market prices, the programme has linked farmers to an off-taker (Olam Nigeria Ltd) to purchase farmers at an agreed price above the prevailing market prices.
  8. Developed 34 kilometer rural feeder roads in five intervening local government areas, at the cost of N551,388,479.42, where the project is being implemented to facilitate access to farm and evacuation of farm produce to the markets.
  9. Developed business plans for Benue state farmers to facilitate participation in the programme.
  10. Proposed outreach in Local Governments of Gwer-West, K/Ala, Buruku, Otukpo and Oju.
  11. Procured and delivered two threshers to women and youth groups participating in the programme to reduce drudgery in the threshing of farm produce.
  12. Procured and distributed 255 of knapsack sprayers to farmers participating in the programme for effective pest and weed control.
FADAMA III ADDITIONAL FINANCING DEVELOPMENT PROJECT The achievements made on this programme within the period under review are:
  1. Release of N217,000,000.00 (two hundred and seventeen million naira) only being outstanding arrears of counterpart funding for the smooth take-off and implementation of this programme.
  2. Mobilization of 2,274 (two thousand, two hundred and seventy four) farmers for the cultivation of rice and 5,000 (five thousand) of cassava in the 2017 cropping season across the 23 LGAs of Benue State.
  3. Mobilization of 100 (one hundred) women and youth based cooperative societies for operation of various agro-processing machines for value addition.
  4. Mobilization of 160 (one hundred and sixty) cooperative societies for disbursement of inputs, various forms of productive assets, capacity building for efficient agri-business by the World Bank for 2017 cropping season.
  5. Plans are on for massive production of Agricultural product especially rice and cassava.
AKPERAN ORSHI COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE, YANDEV Within the period under review, the College achieved the following:
  1. Extension of the college perimeter fence by 1km along Yandev-K/Ala road.
  2. Completion of the hitherto abandoned new administrative block now housing the Rector, Deputy Rector, Registrar, Bursar, Deputy Registrar Establishment, Internal Auditor and other supporting staff.
  3. Fencing of the poultry unit to prevent pilfering/theft and ensure bio-security.
  4. Rehabilitation of the poultry battery cages and provision of improvised feeders and drinkers.
  5. Sinking of two (2) boreholes: one each at the poultry farm and the new administrative block.
  6. Stocking of the poultry farm with 2,200 (two thousand, two hundred) layers. This is being recycled with plans for expansion.
  7. Renovation of 400 (four hundred) sitting capacity hall 1, and repair of seats there in.
  8. Construction and furnishing of one 200 sitting capacity lecture hall beside the power house. The block also has two offices and a toilet attached.
  9. Procured a 300kVA electricity transformer which was donated to the host community of Yandev, Gboko Local Government Area. This is to facilitate the attainment of corporate social responsibility of the college to the immediate school community.
  10. Renovation of the four wards, purchase and installation of facilities and relevant equipment at the college clinic for improved health services.
  11. Rehabilitation of the college fish hatchery, fish nursery and fish farm ponds to boost fish production and training. All these facilities have been secured with soft fences and the ponds stocked with fishes.
  12. Constructed and furnished a two classrooms block with a combined sitting capacity of 400 (four hundred) students. The block also houses two big offices and six toilets for students.
BENUE STATE TRACTOR HIRING AGENCY His Excellency has approved and released the sum of N1.5 million for the relocation of the Benue State Tractor Hiring Agency to her permanent site. This is to enable the agency reach out to Benue farmers more effectively also, the Ministry has found the numbers of functional tractors at the disposal of the Agency are inadequate to render adequate service to farmers. In order to revert this situation, a memorandum is in the pipe line for the procurement of new tractors for the Agency. In spite of this, the Agency has been able to generate N5,000,000.00 IGR. BENUE SWINE/CROPS INTEGRATED PROJECT The project has procured more than 800 (eight hundred) piglets which have been sold to farmers across the Nation as parent stocks to establish their farms. The programme has aided the establishment of more than 50 (fifty) farms with the exotic breeds within and outside Benue State. To a large extent, the programme has improved the performance of local breeds across the state and other farms in other states through her artificial insemination activities. The Benue State Swine project is the first of its kind in West Africa. It is the only farm with the artificial facility in West Africa. CBN-ANCHOR BORROWERS PROGRAMME The Benue state Government supported the training and certification of 16,950 (sixteen thousand, nine hundred and fifty) farmers in the state to qualify for participation in the CBN-Anchor Borrowers Programme for the rice and soyabean enterprises. However, due to inability of most commercial and Micro Finance Banks to absorb the number of qualified farmers in Benue State, only 8,700 (eight thousand, seven hundred) farmers benefited through Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and Excellent Micro Finance Bank. The impact of this programme is the massive rice production by Benue State farmers in the 2016 cropping season. ETHANOL PROJECT Benue State Government in collaboration with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a foreign investor for the establishment of a bio-fuel (ethanol) plant in Agasha, Guma Local Government Area. The project will also involve the establishment of sugar cane and cassava plantations for the provision of raw materials needed by the plant. The project community members will be employed for the out-grower project of the programme. Plans are at advance stage for the take-off of the project. Distinguish members of the press, ladies and gentlemen, from the above achievements highlighted; it is evident that, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources and her parastatals, Agencies and Institutions are working conscientiously in the spirit and vision of the administration to ensure that Agriculture takes its rightful place in the socio-economic life of the people. This will reduce the over dependence on the federation account and also ensure the desired food security in the state while sustaining the position of Benue State in the Agricultural map of Nigeria. Finally, I wish to remark here that the development of Benue State is a collective responsibility which requires all hands on deck. I therefore seize this opportunity to call on members of the press, well-meaning sons and daughters of Benue State to support and cooperate with His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom to work even harder and place Benue State high in the comity of States. Thank you and God bless.