The Former President, Delta State Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (DACCIMA), Chief Uju Udeme, has applauded the gradual return to commercial agriculture by Nigerians, especially rice farming.
Uju, the Coordinator, Aniocha South Local Government Area Rice Farmers Association, and Vice Chairman, Okowa House to House Cooperative Society, made the commendation in a media chat in Asaba, at the weekend.
According to him, there is a need for Nigerians to sustain the current positive engagement in agriculture, and possibly expand it exponentially in view of its legion benefits, while urging government to continue to support the real farmers in order to sustain their interests in agricultural engagement.
Udeme argued that the quality of the locally produced rice is high compared to the imported ones, adding that it was important for Nigerians to continue to patronise not only locally produced rice, but also all other locally made goods and services in order to encourage the producers and attain self-sufficiency.
Meanwhile, to ensure steady increase in food production, the Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has called on parents to encourage their children to be involved in agriculture.
Okowa made the call last week at the official flag-off of the harvest/sales of fish at the Mega Fish Farmers Cooperative Union at the Okelle Farms, Ugbisi, Udu Local Government Area of Delta State.
He expressed satisfaction that in such a short time, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), through the Anchor Borrowers Programme, had created 682 fish farmers with staff strength of over 2,000 employees.He observed that due to wealth from oil, most Nigerians left agriculture in search of white collar jobs which he said led to a lot of persons being jobless,
“We are very glad that the number of our people engaged by this anchor programme has helped to swell up the number of entrepreneurs we have created in the last two years. When you add the 682 beneficiaries in the first batch of the anchor programme to the over 3,000 that we have through Youth Agriculture Empowerment Programme (YAGEP), you will indeed agree that our efforts at diversifying our economy through agriculture is on course,” the Governor said.
Okowa noted that the civil service cannot engage most of the jobless youths in the society, reiterating that agriculture will not only provide jobs for the teeming youths, but will ensure food sustainability in the country.
He emphasized that “the youths should be encouraged to be engaged in agriculture; our soil is fertile and from what I am seeing, in the next few years, we will be able to produce what we consume, process and be the destination for those seeking for agricultural produce.”
He therefore urged community leaders to make land available to encourage youths who wants to go into the cultivation of crops that they have comparative advantage, and also engage in cluster farming for easy access to agriculture extension service officers.
The Asaba Branch comptroller of CBN, in a brief speech, said the CBN spent N1.2billion on the initiative and urged the private sector to reduce their demands from government, observing that Governor Okowa’s administration has been very supportive of CBN Anchor programme, which has led to success stories in Delta State.
The Chairman, Mega Fish Farmers Cooperative Union, Comrade Christopher Egwuyenga, said the farmers have turned out 2,046 tonnes of fish in its first batch of fish production, which will be processed and branded ‘Delta Fish’ to increase its shelf life.