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'Zamfara govt is killing agriculture' FORMER commissioner of Agricu1ture in Zamfara State, Alhaji Shuaibu Abd ul'salam , in this interview slams the present administration in the area of agriculture, He also spoke on the poli tics offertiJ izer and other sundry issues concerning agriculture. Excerpts:

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From IIIn111 Alullashlr, Gusau

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afuIlllmtformtr. ho ... ho.' Il lite"' c(perience. lnitially I WUaldvil50!I':'lIdt, Ialer a poUt+anJ, ow.farmCL I'Ul mo'~lmforta;'le now than C\"Cf. Han Iy. the; lTooney I'm malting nowis DOn~ 'hlLn whal l was grttin as cor 1I 1issioner. 1am geltinglJlore mDney, this is b«aUM in all rrjy fu~ t1~ nds, I plant IWO to Iti5pl,~

thrtc o opslJmuaUyand on the

1\-eJ;l.V I gtl ," :r 1.000b;.gsof

grains. Uk/! ~ IC melon I planted and harvesteilll Just 70days. 1 matle over N'! Inillion. Aside this, I ha\~ filh polJell from which I mw a lot of "Ilonll/ . jaily. and the water I ev;\cJ lle r~n\ the ponds, I usc {or irrillaLillll fal')t¥0g. So I am making dO!Jbl~~n fro-n my farms.

Out/>fmira"lTls, I am ulking

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in I 1 read Agric farminl:ba ~ l Wl d. Econom.ia ,xh degree and post gmdllatt II vdsand I spent IIar~ p3rt fmy dvll strvict carttr b the hg-icultural KCtor. I was ptTmllJ d t scatlary and later cornmls .k ntt of Agriculturt in Zamt'ara Stal !. I'm more comfopbkholithan whtn I Wlil a commisskl{.q even though I am getting my ~ni ion aSi rttlred Permantnt joetary. I thank Allah for my (Irmi buslntu.

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rommin:iolltr r srislM yowIn Jowr fru1"ing,-ar"6!t';' Adually I \~~ my experiences ascommissi~n, r for four yun, as pennanent sfCJ~ary In Zamfara Compn:I1en.sJvt Agricultural Progrllll (ZAQ,lEP) and Program Managerof AOP in sttling up myfarmJ. 1atn now putting up aU thtst'r.rperh nets I garnered during ibis ptTi()(i to boost my

farm ing business. The slogan o/Zamfam ,stale Is Tanning Isowr pride'. Is IMs pridl1 slillth"d Wdl, ~ can still be proud that hert in Zamfara Siale {annlng Is our pride because ~ 115 percent of our population are fanners. And the majoractivlty here is fanning and this is why our slogan says 'farming Is our pridi. Yau ~mnongl.h~ mtllUlging st.flle fl~lturo1 sedor ..-lam 50,000 mdric tOI1$ ofassorted fTOins ~ sold 10 fodual golvnment by the Zmn/ara Slalegowmmmt. How wen! yow able 10 allalll thatfrnt, You know the previous administrations of Senator Ah m~ Sani Yarima and Ihal ofMahmud Aliyu ShinkaCi had \·ery good agricultural policies thai yidded resu lts in the transformation of the sector. The program was known as Zamfalll Comprt hensive AgricultunJ Program (ZACREP). Under th is program, there was a good scheme when fanners wert assisled with soft loans, Im provtd SC'cds and subsidiud fcrtiliur al the right time on loan. All the fanners needed todo was to pay 25 percent of aU lheygot from the state government. And when il comes to payment, the fannen had two options to either pay back in ash or in kind. What I man here is tha.t the rarmers at that time had option to either seD their rarm produce especially gRins to the government or to ake it to the open market. We had wha t w~ c:aUed minimum guarantt't price. the stale government futd price for gllIins for farmen willing to sell their products to it. So thai was the reason why during these rcgilTiCS things WC'rt working, agrlculturt was booming in the state II that particular period. Aif.o, al thaI ~ime, we introduced contracl

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spnying for the fanners after ~ dlscOvtm:lthatouryouth wm not willing to take to fa rmIng. We trained them on howoollospray farmlands, we gIve them sprayers, agrochemials and bicydes to m<I\·earound (arms. It was a two· in·one succes5. We succteded in boosling farming and Il.S well we red ucing unemployment among our lteming youth because many of ulem were engaged through It. Now the incumbent administration has dtdded to discontinue with thll system as they have left ZACREB not functional and IhiJ was why farmers an nol gelling it well in Zanlfara Stale agai n. Iffarmen in lamrara State are given the reqUired support In the areas of fa til lur, Improved sffib Ind extension strvices, they will produce enough food. Farmers in lamialll Slate with adequate fertillur a n produce as much as 40 to 80 bags per hectlre orland but if they go on traditional, they will produce only 14 bags ~r heclare Farmers In IIJ t ,'altsald Ihe stau fOvemmen l sold a bag of f"liIlur/orNl ,OOO lo 'hem In an effort 10 booS I prodJlt /foll Ih b reM. So, M'hy mowld yow lily the &,o,,""mt"t b nOll'1l"go" " Ultl Previously govmt ment of Zamfara Stale used 10 purchase be~·t'tn 60,000 10 70,000 metric lOns of ferllliurs and this commodity reaches the farmen on time I nd in required quantily bUI now it is nol. Evtn when they gel it, you will sec fou r 10 fivt farnlen sharing a bag of fertilizer. Under lhis circumstance, what do you expecl? Low productivity. So. how can you increase food production without adequate fcrtiliur! It is not possible at all Thert is no governmenllhat a n u lisfy farm ers ..... ilh fertilizer when theyscll il at NI,OOO because Ihe middle men will not IUOW Ihe real farm ers to gel It. If you give a rtallstlc price, It is very possible 10 reach the farmen Ind th us boost production. The politics ofrertiliur anywhere InvOlves thm things namely afTordabUlty, accessibility and avaiiabililY if anyoflhcse thm flcton got missing along the line, then you annot reach the target farmers. We know no governmml can adequatdy prOVide fertiliur 10 fannen I t N I ,000 when the market price is about N6,000. Dllrl"IJ'O"rtimeas wmmwlon,"ofAirfcultwre In lAm/ort!, ho .... mOllY metric tOM of/erllliur ~ yow bwylng and how mwm tnre YO" nlling a bar. AI that time, Wt were buying 60,000 to 70,000 metric tons annually. We lold a bag for N2,800 and Ihe farmers were not paying In cash, lt was on loan. And I repeal, Ihal was why we recorded unequal success in farming at Ihl l time. To be frank to you, even if this government buys 100,000

110141 tn" Ifleglor/ous days of agrlt l//lu rr In ZlIm/n ra Stale be regained! WeU,lhis Is ve ry simple. All we have to do is to look It the val ue chain oflhe production of crops and Inimals. train our farmers on how best to boost their farmi ng acth'ilies and at the same time we need to look at the market crilia ll y. We need to provide all the necessary inputl like fertiliur, improved ~ tJ"llctors. loans I mong others to Ihe real farmers. All whal the farmers nt'td is litLie push 10 givt you what we want. We need the polilical will 10 achieve thtst. How will lhe prices offar", produet look lib II,is year in lAm/lira Stalet Grains and olher food stuff will be vtr y v:pe nslve Ihls yea r becau$C the axis of Dansadau, Dangulbl and Magami whe re we ha\·e the highest food production ill Ihe stale are {acing a lot of d isturbances from armed ro bMlS. So m~ny villagers were displaced, they left their villages and ran to urban cilies, lelvlng their farm lands fa llow. The menace of armed robbers will have a lo t or negalive Impact on food production because most of the farm produce In the stale I re from these areas. Also, Ihere was no t enough fertiliur and Improvtd seeds in the state for farme rs.. All these will d ras ticall y arrect Zamfara State'l farming OUlp~ t this year.

metric tons of fertilizer, it will not reach the farmen becau5e the middle men, the politici~ns and thtn the civil servanls will ~f'l t to cuh-in on the cheapnm to make profit althe expense of the taliet rarmen. Then the commodity turns to gold as all struggles to get it with the sole lim of selling it at the black market. During our tenure, you as farmer, pay deposit lnd Wllit for two 10 three months Mfore you get the commodity. We aU know that thert is no middle man, tradtt or polilidan that wUl a~it his or her money and wail for that long befOtt getting the commodity. So thai was the ' tllItegy ~ adopted to rtach the real target fa.rmen wi th ferliliul atth~t time..

Ha.... many mdrlc 'om orbagJ o//trliliur W1.'~ you given by 1/" slale gOI'eTnmt nt "Ib ytarr I was nol given any bag even when I'm one oflhe majo r farmers In the stale. Why were YOll/Jot givr nr I don'l know. Did yow apply fo r it! Under their arrangement there was no need for Ipplicatlon because they took It to ward and it was through It theydistributed it notlhrough farms. They have politiciscd {cniliser distribution, so it won't work.. You cannot apect me to go to the ward and M struggling wil h artl boys for fertiliser, God foroid, I can't. I bought aUmy rertiliu.r at the open marUt.

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DAILY TRUST, 04 SEPTEMBER, 2012