Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa, of Delta has disclosed that his government had commenced the review of its agriculture policy to make agriculture a business in the state.
The governor made the disclosure on Wednesday at the celebration of the 39th World Food Day (WFD) in Asaba.
Okowa, represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr Julius Egbedi, said that the year’s theme, “Healthy Diets for a Zero Hunger World”, was aimed to sensitise farmers and all families on nutrition sensitive agriculture.
“The aim is to sensitise our farmers and indeed all household families on issues of diet food supply; food distribution, climate and nutrition sensitive agriculture and improved agriculture production at all levels.
“To this end, the state government is poised to ensure that all stakeholders in the agriculture sector are aided with the right policy; to provide the needed environment for conduciveness in decision making on food production, processing, packaging and marketing.
“Currently, the Delta State Agriculture Policy is being reviewed to ensure a new policy focus that will promote agriculture as a business; that will create jobs, wealth and build peace across the state,” Okowa said.
The governor said that emphasis would be placed on the production of commodities for which the state had comparative advantage such as oil palm, cassava, rice and tomatoes.
“Others are aquaculture under fisheries, poultry, piggery, sheep and goat production, under livestock,” he said.
On his part, Egbedi, whose address was read by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Sir Austin Oghoro, said that in a bid to achieve zero hunger, the state government had given the agriculture sector a pride of place, in its agenda.
According to Egbedi, the state government had intervened in various areas and dominant among them was the oil palm development programmes, which has witnessed the cultivation of over 3,000 hectares by about 1, 280 oil palm farmers.
“The target of government is to achieve 15,000 hectares of oil palm cultivation, by year 2023.
“Also for ease of doing agriculture, government has acquired over 33,790 hectares of farm land for agricultural programmes, especially to support public private partnership for community-driven intervention.
“A total of 258 rice farmers have been supported to increase production both in the upland and lowland areas by about 300 hectares to produce 1,897 metric tonnes of rice per day and four mini-rice processing mills established for farmers cooperative.”
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr Collins Ashoro, the State Fadama Coordinator, Mr Richard Aseneme, State Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) and Chief Austin Chikezie, Chairman, House Committee of Agriculture; all lauded the federal and state government interventions in the agriculture sector.
Ashoro, said the joint intervention of the World Bank, Federal and State Governments, through the State Employment and Expenditure for Result and Fadama programmes, many farmers had been elevated from poverty in Delta.
He said that most beneficiaries of the Fadama Programme in the state took their stands to exhibit their wares, as the state marked the World Food Day.
According to him, farmers in Ukala Okpunor Fadama Community Association (FCA), recently were empowered with N35 million, 10 Green Houses for vegetable farming where they now produce pepper for commercial purpose.
On their part, Chekezie and Aseneme, lauded the federal government for the ban and closure of borders on foreign rice importation.
They said that sustaining the policy would encourage more production of rice to meet the current demand and for exports, as well as create jobs through the value chain of production, processing, distribution and marketing.
NAN reports that the World Food Day is celebrated globally every October 16.
The Day is set aside to generate awareness globally for those who suffer from hunger and to ensure the need for food security and nutritious diets for all.
The main focus of the Day is that food is a basic and fundamental human right. The theme of the World Food Day 2019 is: “Our Actions Are Our Future”. (NAN)