By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Federal Government, Wednesday, expressed confidence in Bayelsa State’s agricultural potential to diversify the economy despite the terrain.
The assertion was made by Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon Mustapha Shehuri, while on tour of agricultural projects executed under his Ministry in the State.
Shehuri while on a visit to the Governor of Bayelsa State, Sen Douye Diri, at Government House, Yenagoa, said the Federal Government is seriously pushing to ensure the economy is not only oil-dependent but driven by other sectors of the economy, which agriculture is cardinal to actualize it.
He further stated that the government is making effort to boost nutrition and food security, increase the local farmers’ income and create more jobs for youths in the country.
Projects completed by the Ministry in the state the Minister visited include the Mini-Water Treatment Plants in Sagbama, Headquarters of Sagbama Local Government Area; Paved Road Networks and Solar Street lights in different parts of Rural Communities; Re-stocking of lakes and water bodies, establishment of fish processing plant as well as live bird market in Yenagoa.
He was also at the Camp Tukur Buratai Army Barracks, Yenagoa where he promised to complete the electricity project and energize the 500 KVA Transformer already in place for power supply to residents of the barracks and a neighboring community.
He said: “Some cash crops such as oil palm and raffia palm have great potentialities for development in the state, hence the Ministry believes that Bayelsa State is not only blessed as an oil producing state but one of the states that can also contribute to the diversification of the economy through Agriculture.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is very passionate on the need to grow what we eat and eat what we grow so as to de-emphasize unnecessary importation of food which constitutes a drain on our foreign exchange.”
However, the Minister acknowledged that, “The ministry is fully aware of the peculiar situation in this state that limits agricultural production by the fact that much of the terrain are often flooded, swampy and ecologically disadvantaged to support crop production to the desired commercial level.
“However, such terrain if properly harnessed, developed and managed will become an asset for Rice Production as well as other exotic fruits and vegetables that already abound.”
Also, he (Shehuri) made it known that the government has intervened in state agricultural programmes and has embarked on projects to transform the sector at various levels.
“There are various Interventions and Infrastructural supports that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development have either completed or are still on-going in the state.
“Therefore, I am here to see these projects and appraise the extent to which these projects have been able to complement the efforts of the State Government at ensuring that the good people of Bayelsa State, especially the Rural Communities, have access to quality life”, he said.
In response, the Governor of Bayelsa State, Sen. Douye Diri, maintained that the State has huge potentials in fish farming and other areas of agribusiness.
“If properly tapped Bayelsa State can feed itself and the entire nation, we will also want to partner with the Federal Government in other to boost the fish production value chain”.
He (Diri) disclosed that the State Government is going into massive investment in rice production which will yield dividends by the end of the year.