Give Agriculture its Prime Place in the Country- Minister Tells Nigerians

Give Agriculture its Prime Place in the Country- Minister Tells Nigerians

Mr Sabo Nanono, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development has stressed the need for Nigerians to give agriculture its prime place in the country as a good replacement for the dwindling oil.

Nanono gave the hint at a one-day workshop organised in Owerri for maize growers and processors in Imo by the Maize Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (MAGPMAN).

Our correspondent reports that the programme with theme “Post-Harvest Management of Maize Stakeholders Conference- under the CBN Maize Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP)” had many farmers especially maize growers in attendance.

The minister, who was represented by Mr Chris Iwuchukwu, State Director, in the ministry said that crude oil was failing the country reason why agriculture should be given a priority in the nation’s scheme of affairs.

He said the ministry was making every frantic effort to see that the farmers were encouraged and that maize become self sustaining and available for export.

“Crude oil is failing the country so we need to give agriculture its prime place in the country. Since 2011 till date the Federal Government has been doing its necessary best to boost agriculture.

“There is need to make agriculture have a face by making the rural community comfortable for the youth to farm. There is need for the South East and South South to begin to export maize. There is need for the farmers to manage the crop well in order not to suffer losses,” he said.

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Dr Edwin Uche, National President of the association urged the people to embrace agriculture especially the cultivation of maize to ensure food security.

“We need to embrace agriculture as a people. We need to strengthen its value chain in our communities, environment and society.

“We need to accept the fact that technology in agriculture has come to stay and that agriculture is the sector that can boost our economy and make life more meaningful to the people,” he said.

Uche said the workshop addressed issues that bordered on agriculture not only in Nigeria but across nations.

“It opened our eyes to the realities in maize cultivation and broadened our hearts to it as a commodity we must all grow and support.

“The farmers must not look at the challenges and gabs but on the opportunities that exists in the cultivation of maize,” Uche said.

Mr Ikongbe Iya, Deputy Manager, Development Finance Office of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Owerri who represented the Maize Champion Development Finance Department, CBN, Owerri said Nigerian population was increasing day by day, with a lot of concern on natural resources and the environment such as land, forest, and water.

He said there

was need for sustainable agriculture, hence the workshop to build maize growers capacity to reduce losses on agricultural products and not necessarily maize.

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“There is need to develop low cost technology to grow the agricultural products. The machines for today’s demonstration was locally produced,” he said.

Iya said that the anchor borrowers scheme was necessitated by the need to curtail importation of goods from outside the country adding that it was also to supply agricultural raw materials to farmers and companies.

“The workshop is also to address some issues bothering farmers in the southern part of Nigeria,” he said.

Mr Olisa Mokelu, Branch Manager, Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation, Ebonyi State noted that agriculture engender employment and development and urged people to embrace it.

He said that the company had re-positioned to serve the people better and deliver the benefits of insurance.

Mokelu said they are also working directly with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and CBN to serve the people better.

Mrs Blessing Amenze, of the state Ministry of Agriculture, who represented the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said people should embark on agriculture for growth and sustainability for according to her “oil has failed.”

She pledged the continued support of the ministry to farmers in the state to succeed.

Dr Godwin Chukwu of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia in a paper on “Enhancing Post Harvest Management of Maize in Southern Nigeria ” described agriculture as a major player in the socio-economic development of southern Nigeria.

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He said maize is the most important cereal crop widely grown in southern Nigeria.

Chukwu pointed out that although major part of the region is categorised low in maize production potential, however, effective utilisation of available opportunities could scale up maize production in the region.

Some of the participants commended the association for packaging the programme saying it had added a lot to their knowledge of maize cultivation and preservation.

They promised to hand over what they learnt to their colleagues.

A participant Mr George Okeke, Chief Agroforestry Officer, Imo State Agric Development Programme, Owerri – an extension of the state ministry of agriculture- , described the programme as laudable.

He harped on the need to make farming easy for farmers by ensuring that inputs, fertilisers and other farming chemicals and funds are made available to the farmers and on time.

Mrs Mary Okoro from Okwuabala in Orlu, Imo said she had applied for her own Anchors Borrowers fund to start farming and is happy for the programme.

Our correspondent reports that the highlight of the programme was the demonstration of the removal of the corn seeds from its body using locally produced machine.


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