Governors have been given a marching order to boost food security by embarking on mass production.

The order, according to Niger State Governor Mohammed Umar Bago, was given by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Bago said yesterday that his administration earmarked about 550,000 hectares of land for farming in the state in compliance with the presidential directive.

According to him, 300,000 hectares of the farmland were ready for cultivation while the government plans to clear another 250,000 hectares across the state.

Bago dropped the hint while interacting with reporters in the state house reporters on a day the World Food Programme (WFP) pledged a $2.5 billion lifeline to the Federal Government’s Zero Hunger Programme.

He said his administration was not unmindful of the fact that the state does not have the Blue Economy being developed by the government.

The Northcentral state, the governor noted relies on its vast land and green vegetation to shore up its economy.

Speaking on climate change, the governor said: “It is very very clear that climate change has been a topic of discussion in the world. This morning I watched with so much pain how Libya has been overtaken by flood unprecedented.

“As a country and as a state, that is 10 per cent the total size of Nigeria with bodies of water for hydropower dams, it is high time we start to pluck excess water during rainy season as a national plan, so that we can plough them back when we have drought.

“As the world is evolving, we cannot be doing otherwise. So, as a state we are already poised and positioned for the next level. Mr. President, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu has given a marching order for food insecurity and Niger State wants to have 10 per cent of the total landmass of Nigeria.

“So, we have to collaborate with our neighboring states with the Federal Government in the SABC initiative of the AfDB and also with the Livestock Investment Programme of Government of Nigeria. So, these are the benefits.”

On insecurity in his domain, the governor said those willing to invest in the state has no reason to be afraid anymore as the government has taken proactive measures.

He spoke of plans to dislodge bandits and put the lands being inhabited by them into economic use.

He said mining activities (including those with licenses from the Federal Government) have been banned in the state and that arrangements concluded to create cattle ranches, adding that in the next six months, the state plans to plant about 10 million trees.

He claimed that cattle breeders often use rearing as cover to perpetrate in illegal mining.

On the pact with some states in the South of the Niger, the governor said: “We have agreed that cattle will no longer be transported to the South. They will stop at Mokwa where we are setting up a processing plant which will process them before they are transported to the south.”

WFP pledges $2.5b

Through its Country Director in Nigeria, David Stevenson, the WFP announced a $2.5 billion support for the Zero Hunger Programme.

Stevenson announced the WFP package when he led a team of the United Nations (UN) agency to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Betta Edu.

The pledged covers humanitarian and poverty intervention efforts, including the food security agenda and the Zero Hunger Programme, among others.

Stevenson, who disclosed that 2.1 million Nigerians have already been captured as beneficiaries and expressed hope to expand the working relationship with the Humanitarian Affairs ministry, commended President Tinubu for his commitment to eradicating poverty and reducing humanitarian crises.

In a statement by the minister’s media aide, Rasheed Zubair, the Country representative “I have been very impressed in such a short time to hear about the minister’s leadership, putting together the strategy for the ministry.

“We talked about zero hunger, we talked about the humanitarian hubs in every local government area in the country, we talked about the world food programmes, the potential to support those hubs through buying food locally and also assisting in the cash transfer and food.  These are very impressive.

“Let me announce here that the World Food Programme is committed to spending $2.5billion to fight hunger in Nigeria in the next five years.”

Dr. Edu told her guests that more than 133 million Nigerians have been affected by multidimensional poverty. She noted that WFP’s intervention of $2.5 billion for five years “will go a long way to address some of the biggest challenges the country is facing, which is hunger.

According to her, “Zero Hunger” is one of the projects her ministry has initiated as part of poverty and humanitarian response efforts, and appealed to the WFP to key into it by working with the ministry to achieve results.

She said: “We have over 80,000 persons as refugees presently, in Nigeria. In the state I come from alone, there are over 40,000 refugees and these are just those who are registered.

“Part of the innovation which we are bringing on board is what we call humanitarian hub because we want to create 774 of these humanitarian hubs in each local government across Nigeria.”