Chuks Onuoha, Umuahia
Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, has said agriculture remains a major pillar that could solve the problems of unemployment confronting the country and industrialisation.
He stated this at the International Conference Centre, Umuahia, during the flag off of the 2019 national farming season.
The programme was organised by the Bank of Agriculture, in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Abia State Government.
The governor said any state serious about sustainable growth must find a way to mainstream agriculture.
Ikpeazu, who expressed confidence that Abia people would seize the opportunity provided by the Bank of Agriculture to re-engender their interest in agriculture, said the choice of the state for the event was apt.
He stressed the need for agriculture to be taken by all as a pillar of economic development and not a part-time venture.
The governor urged Abia youths to use agriculture as a major vocation, leveraging on the provision made by the bank with the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
He disclosed that Abia has been a leading light in agriculture and has established poultry clusters, which would cut across the three senatorial zones of the state.
He also disclosed that over four million palm seedlings have been produced and increased rice production.
He said the Osikapa Abia, which will be produced by December would be enough to feed the state.
Speaking also, Imo State Governor, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, represented by his Deputy, Chief Gerald Ironna said his government would partner the bank to grow the economy of the state.
He saluted the achievements and prowess of his Abia State counterpart, in agriculture, particularly in oil palm sub-sector and expressed hope that soon, Abia would begin to reap the benefits of the agricultural innovations of the governor.
In a keynote address, acting ManagingDirector, Bank of Agriculture, Prof. Gabriel Okenwa said the Federal Government has recorded success in the agricultural sector and has initiated programmes to boost local production.
He stated that President Muhammadu Buhari has given support in the efforts of moving agriculture forward and diversifying the economy.
Chairman on the occasion, Rev. John Kennedy Opara charged everyone to leverage on agriculture to grow the economy of Nigeria and thanked the governor for attracting the event toAbia State.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs. Nwamaka Ikonne said the event provided opportunity for government at all levels to interact with stakeholders to advance agriculture, disclosing that Abia State is the second state to host the event in the country.