The Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong has vowed to embark on a massive diversification exercise to take the state to economic prosperity.
Lalong took this stance in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mark Longyen, where he stated in clear terms that his efforts were already beginning to yield some economic dividends for the state.
Lalong made the declaration at the Nigerian Embassy in Johannesburg, South Africa, during an interactive session with the state indigenes resident in that country.
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 the 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," the Governor said.
He added that in line with his economic diversification efforts in addition to agriculture, the 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 is 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 the same reason, my administration has negotiated for the reacquisition of BARC Farms, a large-scale state government-owned farmland that was sold to an individual by a previous administration," he said.