Nigeria is blessed with 84 million hectares of arable land located across the country, but these arable land is currently under utilized due to negligence of the agricultural sector by successive governments over the years.

Also, Nigeria has the potential to cultivate rice, Cassava and sorghum both for local consumption and export, but due to poor support of farmers by the government over the years, Nigeria is currently importing some of these crops and its raw materials for industrial use and household use.

It is at the backdrop that Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme Phase 1 (ATASP-1) had embarked in a mission to increase the production of some commodity value chain crops, and add value to the crops.

In 2014, The Federal Government of Nigeria secured a loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB) for the implementation of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme (ATASP-1).

The implementation of the Program commenced   in 2015. The Programme is addressing the constraints of rice, sorghum and Cassava value chains in four staple crop processing zones of Adani-Omor, Bida-Badeggi, Kano-Jigawa and Kebbi-Sokoto.

The Programme comprises three complementary and mutually reinforcing components, which includes infrastructure development, commodity value chain Development and Programme management.

ATASP-1 is targeted at capacity building of the beneficiaries of the Programme, provision of infrastructure in the rural communities, value chain development of Cassava, rice and sorghum.

The Program also seek to improve crop production and productivity of the selected value chains, increased income of beneficiaries, job creation, especially for the youths and women.

So far, the Program has trained over 32,366 farmers, agricultural-processors, fabricators and other rural entrepreneurs including women and youths in various areas of agricultural enterprises and entrepreneurship in line with the Agricultural Promotion policy (APP) and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

According to report released by the Program’s office, ATASP-1 interventions in the commodity value chains of rice, cassava and sorghum have led to increased production of 211,723.96 metric tons of foods, over 299,615 jobs created and N36.22 billion of income generated by all the commodity value chain actors in the benefitting communities across the four Staple Crop Processing Zones (SCPZs) in the country.

The Program is also generating alternative animal feeds from bi-products of crops as sorghum, rice stalks, cassava peels, for Cattle and other animals, as a way of reducing the reoccurring herder/ farmers clashes.

In Nigeria State, the Program had help a rural farmer, Mohammed Yusuf, increase the yield per hectare of his rice farm, which according to him, can sustain him and his family till next farming season after they had sold some bags to make some money.

“I inherited a farmland where I grow local varieties of rice before 2016. I barely eat after harvest; now I eat enough, have enough to sustain me to the next season and have market for my surplus produce.

“After harvest, I got lots of bags for the last wet and dry season farming. I sold some and bought a new motorcycle and a cow. We used to live in the family house where four of us live in one room, but now I have built my own house”, Yusuf said.

In Jigawa State, a 30 year old Yahaya Sale had a record yield of 8.906 metric tons of paddy rice per hectare during the 2017 wet season farming, which is the highest yield ever recorded under ATASP-1 Program in Kano-Jigawa zone.

Women trained by ATASP-1 in Bida-Badeggi zonal office in nutrition and value addition along the value chains of rice and sorghum are now counting their gains as they can formulate infant feeds to sell and earn more money.

Lois Usman of Kpatsuwa community, one of the trained women, has taken infant feed formulation as a business; she is counting her gains in her newly found business.

In the area of agro-machinery and equipment fabrication, an ATASP-1 trained fabricator, Benjamin Okewonkwo demonstrated the skill he acquired in an advanced manner by fabricating a new version of multipurpose thresher in Bida-Badeggi .

Source: tribuneonlineng.com

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