By Martha Agas
Jos, Oct. 20, 2020 Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau on Tuesday in Jos appealed to the Federal Government to support the state to process potatoes, tomatoes and other perishable farm products in the state.
The governor made the appeal during a courtesy visit to him by a delegation of the Agro Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS).
APPEALS is an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture Rural Development funded by the World Bank.
Gov. Lalong said agro-processing was one of the major challenges of the agriculture sector in the state and that even as Plateau is the leading producer of potatoes and tomatoes in the country, it was handicapped in the area of processing for export.
He noted that agriculture was the largest employer of labour in the state and that Federal Government’s intervention was timely and would boost productivity.
“I am passionate about agriculture. I thank the Federal government for introducing different schemes especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are using agriculture to take our youths off the streets through the Plateau Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (PLASMEDA).
“Youths want to be trained to start up their businesses instead of waiting for government jobs,’’ he said.
The governor also said his administration was interested in all agricultural interventions and was ready to meet the conditions required to become beneficiaries.
In his remarks, the leader of the delegation, Dr Ahmed Ajayi, said the project was to enhance agricultural productivity of small and medium scale farmers and to improve value addition along priority value chains in participating states.
He said the six-year project with five participating states would conduct a mid-term review in December and expand the scheme to 12 states including Plateau.
“Plateau, by our assessment, is ready for the project. The state will leverage on the structure of the Fadama project and will need to supply vehicles,’’ he said.
Ajayi commended existing agriculture structure in the state, saying its agriculture training centre, PLASMEDA and Fadama Microfinance scheme were encouraging.
He said the APPEALS project would hinge on three sectors of boosting rice, tomatoes and diary production in the state to shore up their market values.
Also on Tuesday, the House of Representatives Committee on the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) paid a courtesy visit to Gov. Lalong where it assured the governor of Federal Government’s intervention on the repair of federal roads leading into and outside the state,
Lalong had earlier told the committee members that some of the roads in deplorable conditions are the Akwanga-Forest-Jos road, the Jos-Jingre-Saminaka-Pambegua road and the Shendam-Lafia road, among others.
“I want to appreciate the on-going intervention on some of the roads such as the collapsed bridge in Wase, Mato-Kuka Taraba road, as well as Panyam-Shendam roads.
“We appeal for immediate intervention on the other roads such as the ever-busy Jos-Abuja road which is in bad shape. We shall continue to work with the National Assembly, particularly with the members of the House Committee on FERMA to ensure that this is done,’’ Lalong said.