Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum has engaged 6,111 farmers in the state’s mega farm scheme in 10 councils. According to him, the scheme will encourage farmers and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to return to their communities and fully engage in farming.

Also, the governor has supported 2,500 farmers in five councils with N12.5 million to produce sorghum, a ‘wonder crop’ known as ‘masakwa’.The Commissioner for Agriculture, Alhaji Bukar Talba, disclosed this yesterday at an inter-ministerial briefing in Maiduguri.

“They are to farm alongside these mega farms and beef up security apparatus,” he said, adding that Agro Rangers, Civilian JTF and hunters would guard the farmers.He said the mega farms would produce rice, maize, groundnuts, beans and sesame seeds in the 10 councils.

The siting of farms in Konduga, Ngala, Dikwa, Mafa, Gubio, Damboa, Biu, Askira/Uba, Magumeri and Kaga are based on the each council’s comparative advantage of producing five different crops.

Talba also pledged to remove for the farmers all trade barriers to markets. Masakwa is not a rain-fed or irrigated crop, but matures for harvest in January or February, he said.

“The targeted farmers, who were each supported by Zulum with N5,000 to raise masakwa seedlings, are drawn from Dikwa, Mafa, Ngala, Gwoza and Bama councils.
“In Zulum’s efforts to re-invigorate the old farming of masakwa, which is only known in Borno, he has embarked on sensitisation of farmers in Firgi area and Marte/Dikwa axis,” he added.

The farmers are expected to commence production of the wonder crop by October this year, after they had raised the seedlings for transplanting. Speaking on the drought-resistant crop, he said: “Masakwa is being transplanted immediately the rainfall ceases. It grows on residual moisture and matures within two months of transplanting with proven high yield.”