As Gov Ayade moves to occupy 1st spot in cocoa production
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Federal Government, weekend, resolved to galvanise the agricultural sector with technological innovations to boost food production, create wealth and generate employment for young people.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammed Nanono, during the South-South Agro-Industrial Inspection/Town Hall Meeting, in Calabar, Cross River State.
According to Nanono the move by the Federal Government to actualize full industrialization of the sector has commenced with the Agriculture Mechanisation Programme, AMP, where 632 Local Government Areas are being targeted in the next six months.
Nanono who commended Governor of Cross River State, Prof Ben Ayade and his team for focusing efforts and investments that have brought about a ‘Green Revolution’ said Ayade is really on track and in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s agricultural policy thrust and direction to create millions of job, self-sufficiency in food production and security.
The Federal Government has selected Cross River State to be Special Agro-industrial Processing Zone, SAPZ, for the South-South Geo- Economic Zone, which will be located in Ikom and Ogoja Local Government Areas of the State.
The Minister also visited some key agro-industrial investment projects embarked upon by the Ayade-led administration including the Ogoja Rice Milling Factory, the Ikom Cocoa Processing Factory, the Rice Seedling Factory, the Poultry Processing Factory, and the Garment Factory.
He said: “Agro industrialization is Nigeria’s key to economic viability that would reduce the high rate of unemployment, boost the economy, guarantee food security and advance the level of trade and investments in the agricultural sector as a veritable strategy to diversify the economy.
“The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is presently committed to creating jobs and the on-going review of agricultural policy is aimed at refocusing on technology and innovation.
“The nation is on a sure footing towards an agricultural revolution as the government has concluded on a new mechanization strategy that will guarantee quantum leap in productivity.
“This mechanization revolution is going to be kick-started in 632 Local Government Areas in the next six months across the country and will be private-sector driven.
“The Governor of Cross River State, Prof Ben Ayade and his team are to be commended for the efforts and investments made to trigger a Green Revolution in the state’s agricultural sector and they are in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s agricultural policy thrust, geared towards job creation, food sufficiency and overall economic growth.”
The Minister also charged individuals and groups at the Town Hall interactive meeting not to hesitate by presenting their proposals of how to increase the viability of the service centers, which he assured them that the Federal Government will guarantee the facilities.
“We have a huge population and massive market which can be primed to achieve the goals and objectives of the mechanization policy”, he said.
Meanwhile, speaking earlier, the Governor of Cross River State, Prof Ben Ayade, maintained that his administration had made huge investments in the state’s agricultural sector with the aim of not depending on federal allocations, but to be financially independent.
He said, “This is witnessed in our establishment of multifarious agro-allied industries and our desire to make agriculture, rather than dependence on federal allocations, the mainstay of our economy.
“Cocoa is one of the foremost cash crops with which Cross River State is abundantly blessed. Our productive capacity in this cash crop has placed us as the second highest producer of cocoa in Nigeria.
“And we desire not to play second fiddle anymore we are resolved to commence a radical process that will galvanize the capacities that would take us to the premier position in cocoa production in Nigeria within the next 24 months.”
He also highlighted some giant strides in the state’s agricultural sector, which include the Green Revolution also known as The G- Money Initiative; the Ojoja Rice Milling Factory; the Ikom Cocoa Processing Factory; the Ayade Agro-Industrial Park, among others.
“I enjoin our youths to take advantage of this opportunity, and all Cross Riverians to join us in this crusade to create Green Millionaires”, he added.