Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
The federal government is set to launch a graduate farmer initiative in 12 River Basins in the country as 50 graduates are expected to be trained per river basin in varied areas of agricultural production.
The Minister of Water Resources, Mr. Suleiman Adamu, disclosed this in Lokoja, during a courtesy visit on Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
The minister noted that one of the quickest ways to support the policy thrust of agriculture in this administration was to support revitalisation of River Basins, an issue which according to him has been discussed exhaustively in various Federal Executive Council meetings.
He said the council has come up with the initiative to make agriculture very attractive to teeming unemployed graduates in the country and integrate them into agric businesses.
Adamu said the ministry of water resources had this year taken some practical steps to revive the River Basin by signing Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) with the Songhai farm based in Benin Republic for cross fertilisation of ideas on river basin operations.
He noted that the historical importance of the state and confluence of rivers Niger and Benue in Lokoja has made it strategic to the economic diversification drive of the present administration.
“Our main mission to Kogi state is to launch our programme on Graduate Agriculture Scheme which was initiated by this administration to support the new initiative towards food security and self-sustenance in this country
“One of the major drivers of this new push of Buhari’s administration is to support agriculture to diversify our economy from total dependence on oil through the various River Basin Authorities that we have, which among them are quite a number of large dams that support irrigation and even small hydro schemes that have been underutilized for many years”, he said.
The minister who will be visiting the major dams in the state disclosed that some modalities and criteria have been designed to select graduates-participants, reiterating that the scheme would be a continuous one as graduates will be trained in batches.
The Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello in his response, commended the efforts of the federal government to reduce the level of unemployment through the scheme, describing it as timely especially when the water level is almost becoming alarming.
The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Chief Simon Achuba said no nation can boast of sufficient food production without modern irrigation system, adding that Kogi state is blessed with water which can make farmers to engage in all-season agricultural practices.
He however urged those living around river bank to relocate to safer places as the volume of water is observed to be increasing every day.