Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno says his administration accords priority to agriculture transformation to fight poverty and end insurgency.Shettima said this at the third Nigeria Zero Hunger Forum in Maiduguri.
He said that the State Government had initiated various programmes to enhance farmer support services; encourage agricultural mechanization, processing and farmer entrepreneurial skills.
Shettima said that the programmes were also designed to add value and provide market to the produce as well as enhance food security and wealth creation in the society.He, however, lamented that before the insurgency, Borno was one of the major producers of food, livestock and fishery products.
“In the pre-insurgency era, we were the major producers of cereal crops, livestock and fisheries and people enjoyed a prosperous life.
“Poverty is one of the root causes of insurgency and we are geared to fight poverty through effective utilization of Agriculture and water resources.
“We invested much in agriculture. Agriculture transformation is a struggle that we must fight and we must win that war to end insurgency,” he said.
The governor also disclosed that the state government was collaborating with the Federal Government, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) and development organizations to reinvigorate agriculture, fight hunger and provide means of livelihood to millions of persons displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency.
He lauded former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, for the zero hunger initiative which he said would go a long way in encouraging food production, controlling hunger and malnutrition.
Obasanjo, who is the initiator of the project, said the programme was aimed at accelerating food production, empowering youth and women and fast tracking improvement of social and economic well being of the people.He explained that the zero hunger scheme was part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) programme, which should be pursued with seriousness.
The former president said that poverty was the root cause of insurgency, adding, “only one out of the 26 Boko Haram insurgents interviewed submitted that he joined the sect based on religion, but the remaining 25, said they were into insurgency due to poverty and idleness”.
He commended Shettima over his agriculture transformation programmes.
Dr Kenton Dasheil, the Deputy Director, Partnership for Delivery, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), said the organization would support the programmes to achieve sustainable agricultural development.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the three-day forum was attended by the Minister of Agriculture, Mr Audu Ogbe, who was represented by Mr Obinna Okpara, a director in the ministry.
Others in attendance were: the deputy governors of Ebonyi and Ogun, Kelechi Igwe and Yetunde Onanuga, as well as Country Directors of WFP and FAO, Mrs Myrata Kaulard and Suffyan Koroma.