Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State says his administration has diversified from relying on dwindling oil revenue from the federation account to agriculture as the driver of the state’s economy in order to turn around the fortunes of the state for future economic prosperity.
The Governor, in a statement issued on Tuesday, September 27, in Johannesburg, South Africa, by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mark Longyen, said his efforts were already beginning to yield some economic dividends for the state.
It said Lalong stated this at the Nigerian Embassy in Johannesburg during an interactive session with Plateau State indigenes resident in South Africa.
According to the statement, the governor is leading a team of state officials to the country on an economic development working visit aimed at “promoting the state’s competitive advantages to derive multiple income streams.”
“We inherited a near failed state with huge and intimidating economic challenges on assumption of office, we had to think outside the box and fashion out a Five-Point Policy Thrust, with Agriculture having now become the driver of the state’s economy,” Lalong said.
The governor added that in line with his economic diversification efforts, in addition to agriculture, government was also developing other sectors in which it has comparative advantages, such as the solid minerals, tourism, commerce and industries.
“Since we have made agriculture the mainstay of the state’s economy, we took over the Agricultural Services and Training Centre, ASTC, which was moribund when we assumed office,ASTC, are restructuring and tailoring it towards achieving our goals of economic diversification for prosperity.
“This is deliberate and strategic, especially against the backdrop of the huge funds of the state already initially committed to the project and also its potentials to boost the state’s economy via agriculture,” the governor said.
Lalong said that his target was also to make Plateau State Nigeria’s leading state in rice, Irish Potatoes, tomatoes and strawberry production satisfying both local consumption and export, and noted that all efforts to this end had been put in place, especially via Public-Private-Partnership.
“To this end, we have promptly paid almost all our agricultural counterpart fund obligations with our development partners; two giant fertilizer blending plants in Bokkos and Barkin Ladi LGs are being turned around; and a cassava processing plant established in Langtang South LG.
“For same reason, my administration has negotiated for the reacquisition ofBARC Farms, a large scale state government owned farmland that was sold to an individual by a previous administration,” he said.
The governor further said that after wide consultations with stakeholders and interest groups, the state government also keyed into the Ranching Policy of the Federal Government.
He explained that government opted for Ranching because it was a modern form of livestock farming with enormous socio-economic benefits that will have the multiplier effect of meeting his administration’s three E-dimensional principles of youth Employment, Engagement and Empowerment, as well as curbing grazing-related herders-farmers’ crises.
Lalong added that, ab initio, he had to create a peaceful and secure enabling environment for any meaningful development to thrive in the state, hence his decision to deliberately take steps that brought about peace in Plateau State and later created the Bureau for Peace Building, being the first of its kind in Nigeria so as to consolidate on the existing peace.
SSA to the Governor
(Media and Publicity).