From Mohammed Salisu in Sokoto
In its bid to ensure progressive narch towards sustainable economic development the Sokoto State government has set up the largest date palm plantation in Nigeria.
Planned and conceived as the Date Palm Waqf Initiative, the project is targeted at “reducing the incidence of absolute poverty by 25% before 2025.”
This is a prelude to the take-off of a 5,000 hectares of land for the National Date Palm Plantation that would be flagged off shortly.
Gov. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal disclosed these Tuesday at the first National Summit of the Association of Date Farmers Processors and Marketers of Nigeria (ADAFPAM) held in Dange-Shuni local government area of the state.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity,Muhammad Bello and issued to newsmen Wednesday in Sokoto.
According to the governor, who was represented by the state Commissioner for Environment, Mal. Sagir Bafarawa, the plantation is just a pilot scheme that will culminate in the establishment of “similar plantations in all the 87 districts of the state.”
“We have also set up a youth volunteer scheme in all our secondary schools to establish at least one hectare of date palm orchard in each school,” stated the governor, who said the aim is to nurture a generation equipped to manage such venture “and hopefully position Sokoto state as the leading hub in date palm farming, processing and marketing in Nigeria and the sub-region.”
“Our hope,” posited the governor, “is to improve the income of our state, provide business opportunities as well as mitigate the scourge of environmental degradation for the overall wellbeing of our people.”
In his remarks, the Chairman of Sokoto State Zakat and Waqf Commission (SOZECOM), Alhaji Lawal Maidoki said the mega orchard will be used to sponsor the education of poor orphans and less privileged, provide medicare for the same category of people and stem the tide of hunger in the local government as well as the state in general.
Similarly, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullahi, who was also represented, observed that Nigeria as the 10th largest consumer of dates which global trade is put at $1.6 billion, produces only about 20 per cent of its annual demand, thus stressing that ADAFPAM initiative is timely and “there is no reason for delay any longer.”
The occasion was attended by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar and former governor of Adamawa State, Vice Admiral Murtala Nyako.