TO ensure steady increase in food production, Delta State Governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa has called on parents to encourage their children to be involved in agriculture.
Governor Okowa made the call Wednesday at the official flag-off of harvest cum sales of fish of the Mega Fish Farmers Cooperative Union at the Okelle Farms, Ugbisi, Udu Local Government Area of Delta State.
He expressed satisfaction that in such a short time, the Central Bank of Nigeria through the programme have created 682 fish farmers with a staff strength of over 2000 employees, observing that due to wealth from oil, most Nigerians left agriculture in search of white collar jobs which he said led to a lot of persons being jobless,
“We are very glad that the number of our people engaged by this anchor programme has helped to swell up the number of entrepreneurs we have created in the last two years. When you add the 682 beneficiaries in the first batch of the anchor programme to the over 3000 that we have through Youth Agriculture Empowerment Programme (YAGEP), you will indeed agree that our efforts at diversifying our economy through agriculture is on course,” the Governor said.
Governor Okowa disclosed that the civil service cannot engage most of the jobless youths in the society, reiterating that agriculture will not only provide jobs for the teeming youths but, will ensure food sustainability in the country.
“As a state, we keyed into agriculture because, we need to find job for our people, government cannot continue to employ people into the civil service, that is not sustainable with the funds available, so, we are happy when the Central Bank of Nigeria introduced the Anchor programme which has supported aqua-culture, rice production, among others,” the Governor said.
He emphasized, “the oil economy appears to be going down and it is time for us as parents to talk to our children to embrace agriculture; the youths should be encouraged to be engaged in agriculture; our soil is fertile and from what I am seeing, in the next few years, we will be able to produce what we consume, process and be the destination for those seeking for agricultural produce.”
Governor Okowa advised that while the soil in Delta State is very fertile for the cultivation of most crops, community leaders should make land available to encourage youths who wants to go into the cultivation of crops that they have comparative advantage and also, engage in cluster farming for easy access to agriculture extension service officers.
While congratulating Mega Fish Farmers Cooperative Society for the successful flag-off of their sales of fish, he urged all Deltans to consolidate the existing peace in the state which will boost developmental programmes.
The Governor who was accompanied to the occasion by his Deputy, Barr. Kingsley Otuaro and other top government functionaries assured the people of Ugbisi that his administration would construct some blocks of classrooms in the community.
The Asaba Branch comptroller of CBN, in a brief speech, said the CBN spent N1.2 billion on the initiative and urged the private sector to reduce their demands from government, observing that Governor Okowa’s administration has been very supportive of CBN a anchor programme which has led to its success stories in Delta State.
Chairman of Mega Fish Farmers Cooperative Union, Comrade Christopher Egwuyenga in an address, said the farmers have turned out 2, 046 tons of fish in its first batch of fish production which will be processed and branded ‘Delta Fish’ to increase its shelf life.