Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Nigerian Agip Oil Company’s (NAOC) in collaboration with farmers in the Niger Delta has floated the multi- million naira Green River Project (GRP) in Igbogene, near Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
Agip said it was moved by the need to provide an alternative for youths who have embraced kidnapping, oil theft and pipelines vandalism as a means of livelihood, noting that the project would encourage entrepreneurship.
Present at the event were representatives of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Rochas Okorocha of Imo and the Bayelsa Governor, Seriake Dickson, who was represented by his Deputy, Rear Admiral John Jonah (rtd).
Chairman of NAOC, Umberto Carrara, in his address, noted that the success of the programme in the last three decades was a testimony to what persistence and cooperation could achieve, noting that the company will continue to support food security in the country.
“It is my pleasure to note that the little seed we sowed 30 years ago, by establishing the NAOC JV Green River Project has grown and producing good fruits as evidenced here. The impacts in the communities have been impressive”, he said.
On his part, the Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, NAOC, Massimo Insulla, said the 21st edition of the annual Farmers’ Day was set aside by the company and its joint venture partners to celebrate the achievements of farmers over the last planting season.
He said the celebration themed, ‘GRP: Actively leading the future of the Niger Delta’, was the second in a row being hosted in Bayelsa, noting that the cooperation between farmers and Agip had been a source of employment and improvement of standard of living for various communities.
Aside the new farm, Insulla said Agip was collaborating with the university of Port Harcourt on extension services and other major Nigerian academic institutions to integrate agric as an alternative to oil theft, pipeline vandalism and bunkering.
The MD added that a 10-hectare plant propagation centre had been completed in Kwale, Delta state, a cold room in Twon-Brass, Bayelsa, a bread bakery in Olugbobiri, including the provision of 5,000 poultry birds to farmers.
He added that 17,000 plantain suckers, 2,500 cassava stems, 350 kilograms of maize seeds, 2,000 seed yams and 850,000 fingerlings were provided for farmers in the region during the year under review.
In his welcome remarks, the General Manager, District, Marco Rotondi, said there was the need to rethink how the country treats and distributes her resources.
‘’Access to food will be extremely crucial. In addition, Nigeria has the impelling need to diversify its economy, which is solely relying on oil and gas”, he said.
In his comments, Dickson, who was represented at the event, said the only route to achieving prosperity in Nigeria was self-reliance driven by agriculture and not total dependence on oil and gas.
”With this, I state that there is no other way to go in this country today. The only route to prosperity and self-reliance is farming.
”These actions by Agip, to not only get our farmers empowered but also trained is very commendable. They have assisted in training and also empowering our young and old men as well as women who were once focused on oil as the only source of living”, he said.
The unveiling of the expansive NAOC/GRP farm, followed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) the company signed with farmers in the region at an event last year, in collaboration with several banks.