By Festus Ahon
PROMINENT Urhobo leaders have called on investors to harness the huge agricultural potentials in Urhobo land to create employment and reduce the level of poverty among the people of the ethnic nationality.
The leaders held that the age-long practice of subsistence farming was no longer fashionable, and could not create the desired level of economic prosperity across the 24 kingdoms of Urhobo land.
These were part of submissions of the third edition of Urhobo Economic and Investment Summit with the theme: Harnessing Agricultural Potentials for Growth and Development in Urhoboland”.
Some of the leaders who participated in the virtual summit organised by the Urhobo Economic and Investment Group were the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, members of the House of Representatives, Chief Ben Igbakpa, Rev Francis Waive and Chief Efe Afe, Chief of Staff to Governor of Delta State, Olorogun David Edevbie, members of the academia, traditional rulers, development experts, among many others.
Omo-Agege, in his submission, noted that Urhobo land was endowed with the natural resources needed to sustain a strong agrarian economy.
He said there were many untapped potentials in the agricultural sector that could be harnessed to create job opportunities, support rural development, and secure sustainable food production for the Urhobo ethnic nationality.
He said: “We must all be proactive in the context of the present socio-economic climate in both our country and at the world stage. There are growing concerns and agitations for every group of persons to be inward-looking in terms of economic development and the pulling of their peoples from the throes of poverty.
“People need to look at historical areas of proficiencies and competencies, explore and exploit them. The Urhobo nation will not be left out”.
Also speaking, Igbakpa, stressed the need for Urhobos to be adequately prepared to tap into future opportunities that may emanate from the proposed African Continental Trade Zone.
On his part, Waive said there was a need for reorientation of Urhobo farmers to make them more receptive to government programmes aimed at promoting agricultural activities.
Edevbie said the theme of the summit was apt and a wake-up call to fully harness the potentials of agriculture for a brighter socio-economic growth of the Urhobo nation.
In a keynote address, a Professor of Animal Science at Delta State University, Anwai, Lawrence Bratte, said the inability of Urhobo farmers to transcend the small scale farming and adopt modern agricultural techniques remained a drawback in the quest to leverage the gains of the agrarian sector.
Earlier, the convener of the summit, Mr Kingsley Ubiebi said his group was an interventionist body and a think-tank set up to complement the efforts of other groups to achieve an economically prosperous Urhobo Nation where peace and security flourishes.