US firm acquires 30,000 hectares in Taraba

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Mr. Calvin Burgess of Dominion Farms
The Nation (Nigeria) | 22 August 2011

By Fanen Ihyongo

A United States firm, Dominion Farms, has acquired 30,000 hectares of swampy land in Gassol Local Government of  Taraba State for commercial rice farming.

The land, which has been lying fallow for decades, belongs to the Federal Government.

It was a property of the Upper Benue River Basins Development Authority (UBRBDA), an agricultural scheme established by former President Olusegun Obasanjo during his first tenure as military Head of State.

Chairman of Dominion Farms Mr. Calvin Burgess inspected the land at the weekend.

Burgess said the firm would invest an initial $40 million.

He was accompanied by  Obasanjo, the Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Ayo Adeshina, Governor Danbaba Suntai, some Kenya-based rice farmers, and other dignitaries.

Burgess described the land as fertile, with “key advantages like wetness of land and access roads.’’

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Location of Tabara State in Nigeria
He said Dominion Farms  grows rice in Kenya, but he noted the in Taraba looks more endowed and attractive.

The  company chief said his firm might begin plowing by December.

He said the company would establish an airstrip in the area for easy linkage.

Obasanjo regretted that  the programme was abandoned immediately he left office.

He said: “When I was the military Head of State, I established 11 River Basins, including UBRBDA, to acquire lands for mass cultivation of food and cash crops but the vision failed as soon as I left office.”

Adeshina pledged to facilitate the release of relevant documents on the land.

Suntai promised to build a 10-kilometre road in the area to link up the Wukari-Yola road.

He said: “The Taraba State government will provide Dominion Farms with silos for storage.”

Caretaker Chairman of Gassol Alh. Ibrahim Liman urged the firm to employ the indigenes to work on the farm project.

He solicited the cooperation of the community.

The monarch of Gassol, Idi Chiroma, said “the rice project by Dominion Farms would be a blessing to the people of Gassol and Taraba state.”
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