All posts by Mike Okonkwo

Federal Government To Revive The School Of Agriculture In Rivers State

The Federal Government is set to revive the School of Agriculture in Rivers state in order to put into good use the naturally endowed land and water resources as well as train the youths in the south-south region in agricultural production.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu  Ogbeh disclosed this when he paid  a courtesy call on the Executive Governor of Rivers state, Barrrister Nyesom Wike  on the sideline of the 42nd Regular Meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development held from 24-26th April,2017

Ogbeh said a lot of agricultural potentials are inherent in Rivers state which requires supports of governments for them to be fully developed, saying that the School of Agriculture in Rivers state would be revived in partnership with the state government. He said “We think that we should revive the School of Agriculture and provide the place for training. A lot of potentials are in Rivers state, if we do this, the state can be a huge source of fish in Nigeria”.

He said if youths in the state are brought into agriculture, it will create wealth and cut down the rate of rural- urban migration. “We are here to make Agriculture more interesting and dignified “ he said.

The Minister said there is the need for states to manage lands in their communities to grow and develop agriculture, saying that “The land is of no use if it is not put into uses and urged the government to  do whatever it  can do to make land available for Agriculture”.

He noted that the issue of food security in the country must be placed above political sentiments, saying that the annual National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development is a forum where delegates take decisions on how to move the sector forward and  that this year’s forum would provide another opportunity to take decisions, build on achievements and identify Agricultural potentials in   Rivers state.

He disclosed that the Federal Government had just inaugurated the Board of  Bank of Agriculture(BOA) that would provide a platform for farmers to enjoy a loan at  single digit interest while a branch of the bank would be open in every state of the federation.

The Governor of Rivers state, Barrister Nyesom Wike said “Agriculture is a serious business  and if Nigeria must go to the next level,  everyone that wants Nigeria to grow will seek the support of every sector”.

The Governor said the state is presently working in conjunction with the Faculty   of Agriculture in the Rivers state University to bring back the School of Agriculture and disclosed that some potential investors had indicated interests in reviving the rubber plantation in the state.

He expressed appreciation to the Minister for the commitment and zeal he has shown towards the development of Nigeria, saying, “You have shown commitment with age ,I appreciate the way you work, you are really committed to the development of Nigeria”.

As part of his official engagements in Rivers state, the Ministers of Agriculture met with the Rivers state Council of Traditional Rulers to solicit their supports to unlock the potentials of Rivers state for the development of Agriculture.

Chief Ogbeh said “Our population is growing, we have to eat, we have to grow food and we have to make land available and put it to use. Niger Delta has land, it is dormant and they need to put it into use to grow food”

He noted that the issue of land ownership is complex in Nigeria and urged the traditional rulers to find solution to making land available for Agricultural development.

The Minister said Agriculture would create jobs and wealth  if everybody is busy with agricultural operations and assured them that the School of Agriculture in Rivers state would be revived to provide training for interested farmers.

He said if all states of the federation grow food, food will be available and the society would be free of oppression of politicians thereby making our children to be less prone to political crisis.

The Minister said the present administration commenced the cleaning up of Ogoni as part of its determination to restore the land in the Niger Delta region  and assured that government would do everything possible for Nigerian farmers to access loan at a single   digit interest.

Ogbeh added that the Federal Government is working   assiduously to put an end to the farmers/herdsmen conflict and thanked the state for their contribution towards the development of the country.

In his contribution, the Minister of State, Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri disclosed that he did not know the potentials of Agriculture until he became the Minister and said the most important resource, Rivers state has is land and water resource which if well explored would be able to fill the deficit gap of 2.1 million metric tonnes in fish production in Nigeria.

Senator Lokpobiri said “Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Rivers states among others should be able to feed Nigeria, saying “The oil money goes to the Federal Government but if you invest in Agriculture,the money belongs to you and the land you have is a good potential for the country”.

He urged the traditional rulers to make their land available for Agriculture in order to ensure food security, “The time has come and this is the time to make our land available for agriculture.  ”Any land that is not put into productive use has no value. It is when the Niger Delta embraces Agriculture that I will be happy as the Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he stated.

The Chairman ,Rivers state Council of Traditional Rulers, the Amanayabo of Opobo Kingdom, Dr. Dandison Jaja expressed delight by  the Federal Government’s  call for  Nigerians  to go back to land and noted that the discovery of oil in Nigeria has made the country to abandon  Agriculture.

He appealed to governments to look at the prevailing conditions of the Niger Delta region in area of pollution by the oil operations and proffer necessary solutions while an enabling environment in form of soft loan for farmers and trainings should be created for agribusiness to enable the Niger Delta region   competes favourably with other states.

FG To Upscale National Silos In South East For Enhanced Food Production – Lokpobiri

As part of the strategic objective of the present Administration to ensure food security and self sufficiency, the National Silos in the south east that have long been awarded and are still under construction are to be up scaled to meet timely target and usage. The Minister of state for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri expressed Governments determination to achieve this target during a facility tour visit to the Bayelsa State Silo located at Igbogene and another at Okigwe in Imo state.

The construction work at the Igbogene Silo bin site had been stalled because of the challenge of the terrain which did not allow for continuity, ,as a result there was an advise from the Ministry of Works and Urban Development for a redesign of the entire architecture to include elevators that will hold up thee silos which will in  turn be able to carry any weight of grain that shall be stored in them, be it rice, wheat, sorghum or maize as the farmers produce. This need of redesign also affected the need for FEC approval and the increased cost of building. There was an  only structure standing, the Storage Ware House and two Drying Machines. one of the site contractors, one Mr Dayo Aina gave all these explanation.

Senator Lokpobiri said that there was no way Nigeria can achieve this laudable objective of food security and self sufficiency if the silos are not functioning optimally to store excess produce and adequately arrest all post harvest losses. Storage is the key, Lokpobiri confirmed. He expressed concern and displeasure at the Igbogene silos site, a one year contract awarded since 2009 has lingered till now, eight years after and still far from being completed.
In another development, on his visit to Okigwe, though the 20 Silos bins are already in place, the contractors still had challenges, Mr Luggard Enobokhare,the site Project Manager of Continental Civil Engineering General Construction Company handling the okigwe silo said that the 20 silo grain project was made up of 5000 metric tonnes each, totallying  100,000 metric tonnes.And though it was 70 percent completed.and that it will serve imo and Abia state when completed. he however sited the challenge of topography resulting in huge erosion golly which had hindered construction work.

 

The Minister expressed displeasure at the very fsr near completion and use of the silo bins both at igbogene in Yeneguoa and Okigwe, he opined that for Govt. to achieve food security, there might be need to get a more capable contractor to handle and deliver the project at a record time frsme that will both be beneficisl and profitable to both government and the farmers.

 

The Managing Directors of both sites were not at hand to explain to the Minister, there were few staff who were from the look of the environment just drafted to site to portray their presence at the Silo site without doing any reasonable job.
The Director of Strategic Grains Reserve, Engineer Shehu Bello who  accompanied the Minister on the facility tour visit said that the construction work on both sites had been stalled due to their varied challenges and the need for approval to be sought, more so where it involved increased cost of construction, he also said both sites had received 50 percent of of the original cost before the envisaged challenges which had greatly altered the increased cost of construction.

FG Restates Supports For The Local Production Of Dairy Products

The Federal Government has restated its support for local farmers to boost local production of dairy products in the country. The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri stated this during his meeting with a delegation from the Friesland Campina WAMCO, Nigeria Plc. led by the Managing Director, Ben Langat in his office today.

The Minister said the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is one of the Ministries piloting the present administration’s school feeding programme which has dairy products as part of its constituents and would render necessary supports for the optimal performance of the programme.

Senator Lokpobiri who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Bukar Hassan noted that “Peak milk in Nigeria is a household name and every home takes it” stressing that, the Ministry would continue to partner with Friesland Campina WAMCO, Nigeria and other relevant companies to make milk and other dairy products available for the masses.

The Minister mentioned rural infrastructure as one of the priorities of the Ministry  to open up the rural roads for easy accessibility to farmers ,”We will continue to work together ,one of the needs of government’s support is to open up the rural areas, there is need to open up access roads to convey agricultural produce” he stated.

He described the company as one of the agricultural value chain and expressed the Federal Government’s   readiness to address their request of infrastructure development particularly in Oyo state.

The Minister,  who noted that the Ministry had so far trained about 2000 local farmers in dairy production, said the Ministry has a robust Department of Extension Services that would be mandated to further train additional local farmers in order to boost milk production in the country.

Earlier in his address, the Managing Director, Friesland Campina WAMCO, Nigeria Plc, Ben Langat said the delegation was in the Ministry to seek for more supports especially in the area of infrastructure to boost the company’s milk production locally.  The Managing Director said their company had been very supportive of the dairy needs of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North East and to ensure their continued commitment towards the nutrition of Nigerians, the company had engaged in capacity building for the rural pastoralists/farmers in order to increase their milk production to a target of 75 litre per farmer/day thereby creating jobs.

He disclosed that the company had built and opened four milk collection centres while the fifth one would be opened soon at Iseyin in Oyo state; he confirmed that their partnership with the Ministry had highly improved the quality of milk collection thereby reducing the hitherto high bacteria infection due to the use of     traditional method of milk collection.