BY Jude Pius Bepeh
Benue State is rightly referred to as the food basket of the nation due to its immense agricultural resources. It is strategically located in the middle belt of the country with vast fertile land and has advantage and capacity to produce virtually all major food crops of the nation.
The State is a major producer of yams, rice, sesame, soybeans, sorgum, maize, guinea corn, beans” cassava, groundnuts and Bambara nuts. Tree crops like oil palm, mango, orange, cashew, kola nuts, etc. also thrive very well in the State; and the state is a major supplier of fruits in the country. There is a great deal of livestock resources – goats, poultry, sheep, pigs, ability of fish and other aquatic resources remain largely untapped as the traditional methods of exploration guarantee only a small catch. Benue State maintains a leading status in agricultural production against’ the background of a largely subsistence orientation.
If mechanization and other modem methods of farming are introduced, the State can singly feed Nigeria, provide enough raw materials for the nation’s aggro-based industries and get leverage surplus for exportation.
The Benue State Government, conscious of the tremendous agricultural potentials of the State and the promise they hold for its economy, has consistently pursued policies and strategies to ensure increased production of agricultural produce by (i) the mobilization of farmers to form co-operative unions in order to benefit from bank loans and have easier access to agricultural machinery, chemicals and expert advice to farmers, (iii) production of improved seeds, seedlings and livestock breeds for supply to farmers (i) opening up rural areas to ease agricultural produce, (v) ensuring attractive commodity prices by establishing aggro-allied industries such as Taraku Mills Limited, Agro-millers, etc (vi) setting up agencies and parastatals to effect agricultural revolution in the State, such as ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Benue Rural Development Authority (BERDA, formerly DFFRI), Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), Benue Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (BNARD), Benue Tractor Hiring Agency (BENTHA) and recently the Commodities Exchange Board.
The current emphasis in the manufacturing sector of the Nigerian economy is on local sourcing of raw materials. Benue State, with its capacity to support a wide range of crops, can make significant contributions in the national search for local raw materials. Large scale farming in the State will therefore go a long way to produce the much needed raw materials especially for aggro-based industries.
However, at present only little large scale farming occurs in the State. Any genuine investors in large scale farming wishing to invest in the state is encouraged by the land acquisition policy, fertility of the land, fruitful dividend and a wide latitude to grow a variety of crops.
The State that is richly Blessed with abundant natural resources, endowed with flat table land for Aggro-Tourism Industrial Clusters.
Yet she is heavily afflicted with poverty, lack of political will to drive the process where opportunities would have, or will be created for local content Development, State, National, Regional , and International Direct Investment/Private Sector collective participatory needs appraisals.
Then what is the hope or future of the youths across Benue state please?
Orange alone a component of tropical orchard aggro-processing value chain can comfortably attracts $100,000USD monthly as internally generated revenue to the State Treasury, likewise impact resourcefully among the catchment areas communities(Local Inhabitants), Men/Women and the youths who are farmers, and of course demographically identifies as community interest group in orange belt communities but the processes to actualized these goals is systematically impaired! a typical example of the Tomato/Pepper processing Plant in Moribund at Tarka Local County Council, or Local Government Area of Benue of State.
Agriculture is sustainable the world over and currently there is a universal quest for economic diversification and local content development through value chain growth enhancement platforms.
May I humbly crave the indulgence of His Excellency the Executive Governor of Benue State towards an indigenous reflection conscientious with the love for the state and the independent will for a systematic change .
It is not too late to work collectively towards resuscitation of the Benue State Economical components in moribund.
Through value chain identifications of the three Zones A , B and C respectively;for charity begins at home, using his platform as a the Chief Executive Officer of the state to attracts developmental programs taking into considerations appropriate reforms and methodological appliances using like minded fellows with the passion.
The Commissioner for Agriculture, Health, Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Commissioner for Environment,Commissioner for Youths,Special Adviser inter-governmental Affairs(Liaison Office Abuja),Special Adviser Sustainable Solid Minerals development, Special Adviser Biodiversity and Conservation.
should be personalities with the content of credible compositions, determine, vibrant, focused, professional, enterprising, visionary and bearing in mind, the dynamics of globalization with specific reference to the universal quest for the speedy ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.
Prudent Management of Aggro-Forest resources, afforestation or regeneration in consonant with the United Nations Frame Work Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC), the Great Green Wall Trans-Saharan Initiative to combat desertification, Flooding, through proper embankment of the River Benue,Climate Change Mitigation/Adaptation in our global context.
The Proposed initiative by the Governor for the Northern Governor’s Forum calling for the Creation of Grazing Ranches across the 19th Northern States is imperative and can be achieved through collective participation so as to ease the burden of incessant clashes between the Hausa-Fulani Nomadic Herds Men and the Local inhabitants(Farmers), of Destination Benue in the Middle Belt.
This albatross has been lingering on the Neck of the Innocent Blood for over time.
Finally i humbly urge the Cabinet Minister of Agriculture Chief Audu Ogbe, The Governor And CEO of the State H.E Samuel Ortom , Distinguish Senators: George Akume, Barnabas Gimade, David Mark , the Members of the Green Chambers(Lower House of Parliament), from Destination, Benue to further act on the need for proper strategic measures that will revolutionized both the mindset, and intellectual appliances of Her Citizens toward Utilizing her Natural endowments from across the three zones.
This will compliment the most recently Lunched Presidential initiative called “the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council(P.E.B.E.C)” When the US under -Secretary for African Affairs, Trade Representative pay a courtesy call to the Federal Cabinet Minister of Labor and Productivity Senator Chris Ngige in Abuja, the Nigerian Capital.
– Bepeh, Senior tropical Affairs Research Fellow International Transatlantic Global Community, Berlin, Germany.