The Minister of states for agriculture in Nigeria, Heineken Lokpobiri has called on Bayelsan youths to embrace farming as a source of livelihood.
At a Town Hall meeting with Agriculture stakeholders in Yenagoa the Bayelsa state capital, the minister said he is very happy that Nigerians and indeed the world can see the positive side of the Niger-Delta people.
Mr. Lokpobiri explained that Bayelsa’s Land is fertile enough for farming and emphasized the commercial gains of farming to the people.
“Nigeria consumes 3.6 million tons of Rice annually and we produce about 600 tons which is not enough for the people thereby leaving huge deficits,” he stated.
He therefore encouraged the young people to take up farming to be productive and shun criminal vices such as pipeline vandalism and militancy, as the government is focusing on Agriculture, so that they can benefit from the program the government is putting in place through the Central Bank of Nigeria.
In the area of fish farming Mr. Lokpobiri said the Government will make smoking Kiln available to Bayelsan fish farmers for drying of fish in order to save the time spent on drying fish and to prevent wastage.
The President of the Ijaw Youth Council Comrade Udengs Eradiri called on the Government to put measures in place that will attract people to farming.
Comrade Eradiri said government should avoid stereotyping as measures that were taken by other countries may not work in Nigeria.
He said Nigeria needs to develop ideas that are suitable for Nigeria and Nigerians.
“Farmers need to be sure of a ready market for their produce and if this is available, the people will be encouraged to go into farming knowing that harvest will not go to waste. And government needs to look into the next stage of the farming process which are building storage facilities and processing factories,” Comrade Eradiri noted.
He however appealed to the minister to bring more initiatives like this one to Bayelsa state.
Meanwhile, the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme WAAPP-Nigeria has distributed improved varieties of Cassava stems and high yield yam seedlings to Bayelsa state farmers.
The high yield seedlings were handed over to farmers after the Town Hall meeting with Agric stake holders.
The National Coordinator of WAAPP-Nigeria Mr. James Apochi said WAAPP is in Bayelsa to carry farmers along in its programme so that they can also benefit from improved and available high yielding seedlings.
“We have developed varieties of Cassava that is fortified with vitamin A to distribute to Bayelsan farmers, we also partnered the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA to develop high yielding yam seedlings that we are going to give to farmers in Bayelsa state. The beauty of it is that we look forward to a situation where the next time we come together, Bayelsans will be able to tell us that yes the improved technology we took from WAAPP was able to improve their harvest in yam and Cassava” Mr. Apochi said.
The Coordinator said it will amount to grave injustice if resources are spent on researches to develop improved seedling and it doesn’t get to the end users who are the Farmers.
He urged farmers in Bayelsa to link up with WAAPP so they can also continuously benefit from the programme.
The Minister Mr. Heineken Lokpobiri said WAAPP-Nigeria is not only working for Nigeria and Nigerians alone but indeed the entire West African Sub-region.
“These seedlings are disease resistant and they can grow even in the raining season, I believe that in the next few months I will have to come back here to see the cassava that have been given to the farmers and see how they have grown,” he noted.
The West African Agricultural Productivity Programme is a regional Project of ECOWAS and a World Bank sponsored programme to boost agriculture in the West African region, it is a ten year program with a five year renewal period based on performance.