Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
To resolve the food crisis in the country and empower poor farmers in the Niger Delta, the federal government, in collaboration with the Department for International Development (DFID) plan to empower 150,000 farmers in the nine states of the region in the next two years.
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri and officials of the United Kingdom (UK) sponsored programme said in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on Tuesday that the intervention which is being carried out through the Market Development in Niger Delta (MADE) platform would provide the farmers with training and modern agric equipment.
The representative of the Minister, Mrs. Inieye Bakaderemo, noted that the federal government was committed to empowering the people of the Niger Delta whom she boasted had the capacity to feed the entire nation.
Specifically, the federal government , which in collaboration with the partners presented some Smoke Kilns, a more efficient way of drying and preserving fish, to the farmers, said the Technology Adoption Grant, (TAG) would in particular, focus on the palm oil and fisheries value chain.
“The reason we are partnering is because of our interest in promoting an inclusive and sustainable economic development in the Niger delta. The responsibility of government is to create the enabling environment so that businesses can thrive.
“The Niger Delta has a huge potential in agric production, including aquaculture and palm oil. Bayelsa has the capacity to provide food for the entire Nigeria. The smoking kiln not only makes it easier to preserve fish, but also makes the environment more decent. Our objective is to ensure massive employment, increase wealth of farmers and develop our rural communities.
“We are also aligning with the curricula in our institutions. We are providing modern agric technology. The ministry is determined to provide agric mechanisation at minimal cost. We are tired of talking, it’s time for action. We need to be productive”, the Minister’s rep said.
The DFID/MADE representative, Dr. Abimbola Adeyinka, in his remarks, noted that the four and a half-year TAG programme which started in 2014, was targeted at lifting 150, 000 farmers in the region economically and boosting food production in the country.
He added that as a matter of policy, 50 per cent of beneficiaries of the programme must be women, especially those in rural areas.
“We are committed to a policy of equal opportunities and strongly encourage women to apply. Market Development in the Niger Delta is a programme that seeks to increase the incomes of at least 150,000 poor men and woman in the Niger delta”, he said.
He added that the commencement of the “access to technology adoption grant” for aquaculture and palm oil farmers would enhance efficiency in agricultural production in the state, especially fish production, improved palm oil and access to improved harvesting technologies.
Other partnering organisations which showed support for the agricultural intervention initiative were the Zigha Ayibakuro Limited (ZAP) and the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) .