Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Monday in Lokoja Kogi State, tasked state governments to tackle issues of food security from the perspective of citizensâ€™ Right to Food, second only to Right to Life.
Speaking in Lokoja, at the state Agricultural Summit, 2017 with the theme Agriculture: â€˜Investment Opportunitiesâ€™ and the launch of â€œFair Agricultural Projectâ€, the minister said denial of rights of citizens to ask questions and hold governments accountable when their policies failed to address food issues was the â€œgenesis of our problem.â€
The minister who was represented by President, Farm and Infrastructure Foundation, Prof. Gbolagade Ayoola, noted that if food security was addressed from the perspective of right and policies were tailored to meet the food requirements of the people government policies and programmes would be taken more seriously.
He observed that plausible agricultural projects were often initiated by the federal government or external bodies, saying that most states had lost touch of the fact that the primary function of agriculture was production of food.
Ogbeh commended Kogi State government for blazing the trail as the first to adopt the bottom-top-approach in ensuring food security through the launching of its Fair Agricultural Project (FAP).
Earlier, the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello in his speech, commended the federal governmentâ€™s giant stride in encouraging massive local production of rice which had facilitated the current sharp drop in the importation of the product to Nigeria.
The governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Mrs. Ayoade Folashade Arike disclosed that his administration had keyed into the federal governmentâ€™s programme of diversification the nation’s economy to agriculture.
He said that his administration had allowed youth and women participation in agriculture to reduce the alarming unemployment situation in the state adding that government had also encouraged the exportation of agric products that are in abundant across the state such as cassava and rice.
In his welcome address, the state Commissioner of Agriculture, Kehinde Oloruntoba lauded the state government gesture to declare a state of emergency on Agriculture by embarking on mechanised system of agriculture to ensure food security and boost massive local production of agric products.
The commissioner said Bello’s administration procured Tractors and other farming equipment worth billions of naira and as well established 1,000 fish ponds and another 1,000 boreholes to enhance agricultural activities across the state.
Facilitator of the programme and Managing Director of the Kogi Agricultural Development Project (ADP), Paul Okatahi, in his remark, challenged youths to embrace agriculture saying, “there are no longer White Collar Jobs to absorb them in the labour market.”
Okatahi also called on the traditional rulers in the state not to relent in playing their complementary role of mobilising and sensitising their subjects to embark on agric describing “the sector as the only alternative for citizens to earn a living with ease.”