From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Secretary to Rivers State Government Tammy Danagogo has urged agriculture experts in the state to develop new measures to increase young people’s participation as agripreneurs in order to address gaps in the food and agricultural sector.
Speaking during a courtesy visit by members of the Fisheries Society of Nigeria, Rivers State Chapter, in Port Harcourt, Danagogo noted that agriculture occupies a crucial position in the economic prosperity of the state and the country.
He added that young agripreneurs were needed to bridge the food security gap and the challenges of unemployment.
‘Nationally, agriculture should be used to engage young people. Experts and those already established in the industry need to do more. One of the challenges we have in our country is that we theorise a lot, but practicalising it becomes a challenge. Government wants to see practical efforts of MDAs and the private sector. You need to drum your presence and show leadership in the farming sector,’ he stated.
‘I urge you to engage more since Rivers State has a comparative advantage in the fishery sector. Do not only theorise but show practical demonstrations of your efforts. There is also the need to engage young graduates who can practicalise what they have learnt and passionately pursue careers as farmers and thereby attract support.
‘Israel, for example, has over 270 farming communities called Kibbutz in which the farming experts and apprentices live and learn. After young farmers apprenticeship, you are set up in a Kibbutz. In this way, more people are employed and food security is assured.’
He regretted that young graduates do not take pride in agriculture, but rather see farming as archaic and a venture meant for the old and rural dwellers.
According to him, ‘it is necessary that, as professors and academic doctors, you also demonstrate your farming skills to arouse the interest of your students. We should make the public understand that there is dignity in farming and fishery.
‘The need to re-orient our populace I believe is one of your focuses for the seminar. You occupy a very crucial position in the economic prosperity of the state and country. Do not allow any situation to discourage your efforts.
‘Rivers State Government has invested heavily in the infrastructural and other sectors; and as we are rounding up with key infrastructure, the way to go is how to engage and empower our people. We are not unmindful of that.
‘Government is never at ease due to the plethora of challenges posed by the unemployment of the youths across the country. Some of the key areas are agriculture, vocational education, sports, local technological development. Agriculture is indispensable to make us a production-based economy.’
In her remarks, the Chairperson of the Fisheries Society of Nigeria, Rivers State Chapter, Dr (Mrs) Nene Jamabo, represented by the Secretary, Dr Akinrotimi Ojo, thanked Governor Nyesom Wike for his efforts in agricultural support to farmers and notified the government of the association’s intention to host the annual national conference in the state.
Jamabo noted that members of the association were drawn from government agricultural agencies, higher institutions, and the private sector.
She said that the conference would attract fishery experts from around the world and Nigeria into Rivers.