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Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State yesterday flag off the sale of fertiliser to farmers at a subsidise rate to boost farming activities in the state.

Ishaku who performed the flag off and free distribution of improved seedlings of sesame, rice,  soya beans, maize and cassava stems as well as modern rice threshers at a ceremony held at the Gym Hall of Jolly Nyame stadium in Jalingo said the aim was to boost agricultural production, reduce poverty and create jobs in the state.

“My aim is to make Taraba a leading state in agricultural production in the north east subregion. I am determined to make agriculture a whole mark of my administration because 80 percent of our people are farmers so, supporting them will go a long way in reducing poverty and creating jobs.

“Sesame seed (beniseed) is highly needed in China and other countries of the world,  so we have acquired the improved variety of its seedlings a long side other crops for distribution to farmers because we have a good soil for their cultivation.

“I am happy that our partnership with International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and FADAMA III is yielding result and we have made tremendous progress in dry season farming like never before, I will continue to provide farming inputs to farmers to boost production,” he said.

The governor who said IFAD was constructing 7 km feeder roads each in Wukari and Karim Lamido local government areas of the state as part of the partnership agreement, expressed hope that soon a good number of Taraba people would soon become millionaires through farming.

He announced plans by the state government to establish cocoa grading centre in Takum under Public Private Partnership (PPP), saying the move would include Taraba on the list of cocoa producing states and stop the practice where people buy Taraba cocoa and re-brand it to their advantage.

On the state of Tractor Hiring Agency,  Ishaku said the experiment has failed to meet the expectations of the people and that he would empower cooperatives directly by giving them tractors without necessarily passing through Tractor Hiring Unit for efficiency.

The governor warned against diversion of the farm inputs and implements, adding that anyone found wanting in the process would be jailed.

Responding on behalf of farmers, Mr. Tanko Bobo who was given a rice thresher at the ceremony thanked the governor for his intervention, saying the move would help Taraba farmers to meet the food demand of the country especially rice and other staple food.

“Your Excellency you have 80 percent of Taraba voters in your pocket by this gesture. I want to assure you that 4+4 of your tenure is sealed because we Taraba farmers with 80 percent of the population are with you.

“Let INEC fixed date for 2019 election and we will return you to government house for another 4 years, ” he said.

Our correspondent reports that the state government procured 30 metric tonnes of fertiliser at the cost of N6000 per bag and subsidised it to N4, 500 to reduce the burden on local farmers.