The Michigan State University in the U. S. has expressed its determination to partner with the Delta Government in efforts to develop agriculture in the state.
Officials of the university’s Department of International Development expressed the commitment in Asaba when they visited Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa.
The leader of the delegation, Dr Oyinkan Tasie, an Assistant Professor, International Development, said that the partnership would aid efforts to reposition agriculture as the mainstay of the state’s economy.
He said that the university was collaborating with some states in Nigeria, with a view to helping them to evolve sound and viable agriculture policies via training and development of models.
‘‘We have come to seek partnership with the Delta State Government to see ways we can work together to develop institutions and manpower in the agricultural sector.Through the provision of training for efficient manpower development and improved best practices, we are optimistic that the programme, which will also run in six other states in Nigeria, would be a huge success“, he said.
‘‘Our partnership objective is to help formulate a viable agricultural policy for the state, through collaborative work with the state Ministry of Agriculture and Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka. The partnership will involve training of students and academicians in the various fields of agriculture as well as the provision of technical logistics to improving agricultural programmes in the state,’’ he said.
Tasie, a lecturer of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Economy, Michigan State University, listed Benue, Ebonyi and Niger as some of the states that were selected for the partnership programme with the university.
He said the American university was committed to providing the needed technical assistance to the states so as to actualise the main objectives of the agricultural development partnership.
According to him, the partnership will help to provide a support base for the state government’s agricultural development programmes.
Responding, Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa, expressed the state government’s readiness to collaborate with the institution to improve agricultural production in the state.
The governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Festus Agas, said the state government placed high premium on agriculture.
He said that was why it was committed to entering partnerships that would facilitate the development of the agricultural sector so as to generate revenue for the state and employment opportunities for the citizens.
‘‘The state government’s policy thrust is anchored on the SMART agenda, and one of the ways of actualising this objective is through the vehicle of agriculture to provide gainful employment for our people. Since the inception of the present administration in Delta, government has initiated various agricultural development programmes and investments in agriculture to empower our people,’’ he said.
Okowa listed the state government’s investments in oil palm production, aqua-culture and rice production as well as its collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria in agriculture as some of its development initiatives.
According to him, the government will remain committed to providing partnership support and the enabling environment for the success of initiatives that are geared toward improving the state’s economy.
He expressed optimism that the partnership programme would be mutually beneficial to both the state government and the Michigan State University.
He commended the university for selecting Delta as one of the states for the agricultural programme and conveyed his administration’s appreciation for the training of students in agriculture.