For a very long time, agriculture has been the backbone of the Nigerian economy. As a matter of fact, a lot of countries depend solely on agriculture for their economic growth and to having a better and healthier society.

Agriculture is the basic source of food supply of all the countries of the world—whether underdeveloped, developing or even developed. Raising supply of food by agricultural sector has, therefore, great importance for economic growth of our country

Agriculture provides employment opportunities for rural people on a large scale in underdeveloped and developing countries. It is an important source of livelihood. The rising agricultural surplus caused by increasing agricultural production and productivity in other nations tends to improve social welfare, particularly in rural areas.

Looking closely at the concept of having a rising in agriculture that brings about productivity in nations, explain the depth why Architect Darius gave maximum attention towards the Agriculture during his first tenure as the Executive Governor in the entire state of Taraba.

Looking closely at the impact and achievements by Arc Darius Dickson Ishaku, clearly shows, the Governor believed agriculture is the engine that stimulates economic processes when it comes to nation development.

At his inauguration in 2015, he made an observation that have guided his vision towards the complete overhaul and Rescue of the agricultural sector in Taraba state.

Firstly, he noted:

… My fellow citizens of Taraba State, as I stand here on this podium looking at the horizon of Taraba State, I see a promise of possibilities; I see a promise of a greater tomorrow; and I see a promise of a united indivisible Taraba State. Based on these promises, I have a vision. I have a vision that in 10 years, Taraba State will be the leading economy in the North East Sub-region.

This administration will strive to create and maintain an enabling environment conducive for the optimal participation and sustainable engagement of key stakeholders and partners, by developing a sensitive and responsible political class, a vibrant and purpose-driven bureaucracy, a veritable resource base, and a robust broad-based economy. People-based, government-enhanced, and private sector-led approaches will be employed to guarantee this pursuit.

This administration will harness the potentials and endowments in AGRICULTURE, tourism, and commerce and industry, as well as pay attention to education, health, water and sanitation, and strategic infrastructure, using leverage from development partners and engaging public-private-partnership (PPP) options, to enhance this pursuit.

Governor Darius (centre) at the commissioning of Tractors

It is a fact, Nigerian population is growing, but productiveness rates have fallen rapidly over the last few years. Nigeria is well-known for nothing else than oil, and it is so sad, because we never used to have oil – all we used to have was agriculture.  Nigeria’s oil has come at the detriment of the agriculture sector, that is why we have a rising poverty situation. And the tragedy is that, even states that have no oil became blind to harnessing the gift of natural resources they have in their states to boast the state’s economy.

Looking closely, studying attentively to the many achievements under the Darius Administration it is a proven fact, that, if states will focus internally they will have little or no need to depend on oil revenue. His style of leadership and approach to agriculture in the state, speaks volumes to the entire nation. The message is that, believing we have oil and allowing that to remain our core source of income is wrong and that status quo must change. We need a reformation, and a complete transformation in the sector from grass-root-upward. 

In his words:

“In diversifying the economy of our dear nation Nigeria, complete evolution in agriculture holds the key to changing our economic status for the better”.  – Darius Dickson Ishaku.

His achievements have also proven strongly that; we must return to the other key matter; getting more hoes (mechanized farming) to restore the glory of Nigerian agricultural sector. Nigerians must make up their minds to the reality that every leader must have the capacity to bring up and initiate systems and policies that can bring back the dignity of their states and of course Nigeria in the community of nations.

Remarkably, a problem that was known and a vision that was defined from the beginning by the Rescue Captain Arc Darius has given his administration the ability and capacity to thrive with accuracy and precision. The administration was absolute, resolute, result oriented and was undistracted even at the face of clear provocation and intimidation by internal and external forces put together.

This was the underlying reason why Governor Darius Ishaku decided to prioritize the transformation of the agricultural sector in Taraba State when he resumed office. His Agriculture Rescue Agenda typifies his desire and determination to bring about this transformation.

It is argued that the interventions and revolution being experienced in the agricultural sector in Taraba State in the last three years is one of the most enduring legacies after water.

Taraba State Green House (side view)

Chief among his initiative was the gigantic greenhouse project situated within the premises of the Taraba State University and the State College of Agriculture in Jalingo. This project was initiated with an initial target to produce four exotic crops namely: Cucumber, Lettuce, Pepper and Tomatoes.

This is the first greenhouse in the entire North-East sub region and the largest in the country. It sits on five hectares of land with an installed capacity to house fifteen green houses.

A visit to site shows that currently, eight of the eleven green houses have been completed while the remaining three are still under construction as the project was contracted to an Israeli company known as ONIDA Development Limited. The company was mandated to construct the project, train the needed personnel and hand over the project to the owner the Taraba State Government.

The construction of each of the greenhouses took 7 months from start to finish. Established in August 2015 by the Darius Ishaku government, the greenhouse is worth N2 billion. Behind the greenhouse, a 20,000-cubic litre capacity earth dam has also been constructed and completed with underground pipes that are connected to the irrigation room in front of the greenhouse.

A lot of politicking had characterized the establishment of a greenhouse in the state with some claiming it shouldn’t be a priority of government. But business research has shown that the greenhouse is indeed needed for several reasons.

For example, vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, lettuce and cucumber, which are basic dietary requirements for the people are not grown in commercial quantity in the State. Most of the vegetables being consumed in the state are imported from other states. Thus, a greenhouse will help to reverse this economic reality turning Taraba state into a producer rather than a consumer of vegetables.

Furthermore, it will also serve as a source of employment for the youths and an additional source of revenue generation for the state. Apart from supplying the vegetables of international quality to citizens in Taraba state, the government has also begun to export vegetable products to other cities outside of the state on daily basis.

In this light, the Taraba Greenhouse has become a solution to importation of vegetables, creating an opportunity for Taraba to engage in foreign exchange trading. Besides that, a visit to the greenhouse shows that over 200 youths are already employed. That is to say, part of the vision of this greenhouse is being fulfilled by tackling the issue of youth unemployment.

Again, the location of the greenhouse is strategic. Being situated within the state University and the College of Agriculture campuses, it provides a suitable alternative for students who, hitherto, had to travel hundreds of miles to other regions on excursion just to see how crops are being produced on a commercial scale. Now such facility is just a few minutes away from them.

VP Osinbajo and Gov Darius commissioning the Green House in Jalingo

Governor Darius did promise an agricultural revolution and from the start of his administration he has achieved that to a large extend. He is doing what has never been done in the history of Taraba State, making uncommon tools common to the common man. The greenhouse is a definitely a pathway to organically cultured and post-free vegetables and an innovative way to create more jobs for Tarabans.

These landmark achievements in the agricultural sector have not gone without its own fair share of criticism. Some misinformed individuals have attacked the progress being made in this sector, claiming that the food being produced are not healthy for human consumption.

However, experts explained that these vegetables are not genetically induced for accelerated growth but are organically cultured to be free from common impurities and spoilers of inner vitamins and minerals. They stressed that the growth processes also take time and does not compromise quality just to achieve quantity in less time.

At the time the Taraba Agro Green House Project began harvest, experts in Agro business have continued to highlight the importance of the project to the State’s economy and what stands to gain from the project.

Meanwhile, agro experts believe that Taraba Agro Green House Project is capable of generating $50 million dollars annually and called on other states in the country to emulate Taraba by constructing similar economically viable projects in their States to create jobs and reduce poverty not just in their respective states but it will also add to Nigerians GDP.

Experts also said apart from the huge economic potentials of the Taraba Green House Project, it will also serve as a training centre for students studying Agriculture related courses in higher institutions across the country. Therefore, other states in Nigeria should take advantage of this modern technology to improve their revenue. Citing Israel as typical example, they admitted that though located in the desert, they have taken advantage of this technology and they are earning huge foreign exchange from it.

For example, land resources have been effectively and efficiently deployed for agricultural purpose especially in food production which has brought about an increased output in availability of food to the people.

Despite the threat from insurgence in recent times, the Governor has ensured that the people of Taraba live in a secure environment, making sure that their lives and property are secure and protected across the state as they invest in their agricultural activities.

Furthermore, during raining seasons, the state executive council usually approves millions of naira for the purchase of fertilizers that would be sold at subsidized rates to farmers around the state.

His Excellency and his administration have also undertaken major irrigation projects around the entire state. These projects also were executed in a bid to increase the food production in the state.

Specifically, in 2017, his administration ordered for thousands of metric tons of fertilizer for farmers for the farming season as it has done over previous seasons. The administration has spent hundreds of millions on fertilizers alone for the season of 2017. This initiative is done annually by the Darius-led administration to strengthen the course of agriculture in the state.

Some key achievements of the Darius administration in Taraba State includes: The deal sealed by Governor Ishaku and Dangote Group of Companies to Commence Rice and Sugar Production in Taraba State. In this light, His Excellency has presented a certificate of occupancy to the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Dangote Group of companies in the state, which is cited in Lau Local Government Area of the state. The Governor said that the presentation was as a sign of commitment on the part of Taraba state Government so that the company can take off and commence full operation.

The commencement of the gigantic project signalled the starting point of Taraba’s development from the usual civil service state to an industrial state.

The Chairman and Chief Executive of Dangote Group of Companies, Alhaji Aliko Dangote said his company is taking the project very seriously particularly, now that the country is turning more of its attention to agriculture.  He said,

“For our company to make headway in agriculture just like it did in cement, Taraba is the most preferred destination for safe and profitable business in agriculture and attention will be focussed on rice farming and sugar production.”   –  Aliko Dangote

Gov Darius Best Governor of the Year Vanguard

The foremost business mogul in Nigeria also revealed that, when his company started the cement revolution in the country some decades ago, it started from zero tons and today it is producing over 45 million tons and that in the next few years he will be hitting eighty million tons.

Other achievements included the empowered over thousands dry season rice famers; the Distribution sesame seeds; Distributed fertilizers to famers; Purchase of over 200 tractors that will be distributed to farmers; Purchase of over 200 Rice mill that will be distributed to farmers; Helping internally displaced persons with relief materials that are agro related; Also, his focus on empowering farmers at all levels with modern tools and training for effective yield and stress-less process of farming proved that Governor Darius is knowledgeable that agriculture is not only an important occupation of the people, but also a way of life, culture and custom.

In his words:

“Our true treasure as a nation is hidden in our soil. We have lost focus trying to dig them out using pipes ONLY (oil). In a real sense we need more hoes than ever to dig them out (Agriculture). Agriculture is pivotal to Nigerian economy”. – Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku

Taraba citizens are in for something huge. If these were done by the Rescue Captain from the point of decay to life; from grass to grace, then they are rest assured that something massive is about to happen in the entire state after May 29, 2019. The Green book is still with the Rescue Captain and I am confident the reason for his vacation after a stressful election was to retreat, assess, re-strategize and upgrade the masterpiece in order to take Taraba to another great level of growth and greatness.

Watch out Tarabans, something great is underway…

Mshelia

From Abuja.