Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, says the Federal Government is committed to making the country an agriculture export hub.
Ogbeh made this known on Thursday during the opening ceremony of the council’s meeting at the ongoing 43rd National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development conference in Umuahia.
The theme of the event was: “Consolidating the Strategies of Agricultural Promotion Policy for Economic Diversification and Growth”.
The Minister, who was represented by Dr Mohammed Bello, of the ministry said that the Federal Government had resolved to increase agricultural productivity, reduce food importation and implement programmes that promote food safety and security.
“We shared this agenda with the stakeholders of the National Council on Agriculture at the 41st meeting held in Kano in 2016.
“It led to the articulation of the 2016 to 2020 Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) and its Investment Financing and Implementation Plan (IFIP).”
He said that agriculture was a significant sector in Nigeria because of its contribution to food production and overall development of the nation’s economy.
Ogbeh emphasised the need for the council meeting to focus on providing a policy direction that would yield improved enabling environment for investors, attainment of food security and sustainable livelihood in Nigeria.
He charged stakeholders to recommit themselves to the development of the agriculture sector, adding that it was key to good health and wealth creation.
“We are to align interests, identify interventions, rank alternatives and fine tune strategies.
“We also need to pool resources, execute projects, ascertain the impact and ensure continuity.
”At the end, our synergy will help us achieve food sufficiency, enterprise promotion, productive employment and wealth creation in the country,” Ogbeh said.
Mr Suleiman Adamu, the Minister of Water Resources, appealed to participants to discuss as well as evolve best policies and programmes on agriculture from various perspectives.
Adamu, who was represented by Mrs Christy Odua of the ministry, said that the ministry of water resources would continually collaborate with the ministry of agriculture and rural development to promote food sufficiency.
He expressed hope that the outcome of the council meeting would make a positive impact on the socio-economic growth of the country.
Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the Federal Government was focusing on utilising agribusiness undertakings to improve socio-economic development in the country.
Lokpobiri, who was represented by Mr Azeez Muyiwa said that the Federal Government was focused on implementing programmes and policies that would encourage economic growth.
He said that the meeting would endeavour to satisfy the Federal Government’s yearning to grow agriculture, diversify the economy, ensure food security and empower the citizenry.
Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia described the theme of the event as apt, considering the emphasis of the Federal Government on the attainment of food security, job creation and national productivity.
Ikpeazu, who was represented by his deputy, Mr Ude Oko-Chukwu, said that agriculture had the capacity to upscale socioeconomic development in Nigeria, adding that it was pertinent for Nigerians to optimise its value and benefits.
The governor said that the state government was committed to aligning with national programmes and policies on agricultural development to promote the `Change’ agenda of the present administration.
Sen. Theodore Orji, representing Abia Central said that the deliberations of the council would make a positive impact on the nation.
Orji called on the council to ensure that policies that could be implemented with regards to herders/farmers clash would be evolved to solve the problem.”
Mr Suffyan Koroma, the Country Representative of Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN in Nigeria, commended the Federal Government for its achievements in the agriculture sector in the last four years.
Koroma, who was represented by Dr Ahmed Matani called on the Federal Government to create greater alignment with the states to domesticate the Agricultural Promotion Policy.