From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government says its investments in agriculture in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria in different areas including rice production will start yielding returns before the end of the year.
Deputy Governor Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo stated this over the weekend at a meeting with traditional rulers from Nembe, in Government House, Yenagoa.
In a statement by his media aide, Mr Doubara Atasi, the deputy governor said the state had since keyed into the CBN backed Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme (AADS) and Anchor Borrowers programmes to revamp the agricultural sector.
Ewhrudjakpo noted that the focus of the Prosperity Administration is to achieve food sufficiency, assuring that the state government would distribute its own locally produced rice to the people as Christmas gift this year.
‘By God’s grace, we are going to eat our own rice from the various farms we have cultivated in different parts of the state. I can assure you (traditional rulers) that we will not buy rice from elsewhere to distribute to you during Christmas,’ he said.
‘The Anchor Borrowers and out grower programmes are very key to food security. So, we are working with the CBN to ensure good sufficiency in our state. We is working to see how we can get credible partners to mill the rice.’
The deputy governor, however, pointed out that government’s intervention in the agriculture sector was not only in crops production, but also in fisheries and poultry.
On security, he said the Diri administration was taking proactive measures to forestall the breakdown of law and order as experienced in some parts of the country.
Ewhrudjakpo urged the traditional rulers to complement government’s security efforts, adding that a new security architecture involving all stakeholders including the youth would soon become operational in the state.
Underscoring the importance of intelligence gathering and sharing in security management, he directed the relevant ministries to install a temporary communication system on the Obioku corridor, pending when service providers will mount theirs in the area.
Earlier in his briefing, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr David Alagoa, disclosed that about 3500 rice farmers across the state were currently participating as beneficiaries of the AADS and Anchor Borrowers programmes.
Dr Alagoa, who decried the situation where the state gets almost all of its food supplies from outside, emphasised the commitment of the present administration to change the trend through its two-pronged policy of food security and mechanised farming.
Describing the policy as participatory, he said government was ready to partner communities by providing the necessary inputs for farming and harvesting, play the role of an offtaker but would not buy or acquire any land.