The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri, has reiterated Federal Government’s commitment toward the diversification of the economy through agriculture.
A statement on Wednesday by Ezeaja Ikemefuna, Chief Information Officer in the ministry said Shehuri said this when he paid a courtesy call on Governor of Bayelsa, Douye Diri at Yenegoa.
The minister, who was on a working visit to the state, said that diversification to agriculture would boost nutrition and food security, increase local farmers income and create more jobs for Nigerian youths.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is very passionate on the need to grow what we eat and eat what we grow so as to de-emphasis unnecessary importation of food which constitutes a drain on our foreign exchange.
“The ministry is fully aware of the peculiar situation in this state that limits agricultural production by the fact that much of the terrain are often flooded, swampy and ecologically disadvantaged to support crop production to the desired commercial level.
“However, such terrain if properly harnessed, developed and managed will become an asset for Rice Production as well as other exotic fruits and vegetables that already abound.
“Some cash crops such as oil palm and raffia palm have great potentialities for development in the state, hence the ministry believes that Bayelsa is not only blessed as an oil producing state but one of the states that can also contribute to the diversification of the economy through agriculture,” he said.
Shehuri said the diversification agenda of the present administration was one of the cardinal policies aimed at achieving nutrition and food security, reducing poverty rate and creating more jobs for Nigerians
“There are various interventions and infrastructural supports that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has either completed or are still ongoing in the Bayelsa.
“Therefore, I am here to see those projects and appraise the extent to which they have been able to complement the efforts of the state government at ensuring that the good people of Bayelsa, especially the rural communities have access to quality life,” he said.
The minister identified some of the projects fully funded and completed by the ministry to include: the Mini-Water Treatment Plants in Sagbama, Paved Road Networks and Solar Street lights in different part of Rural Communities.
Other projects of interest were, Re-stocking of lakes and Water Bodies, establishment of Fish processing plant as well as Live Bird Market in Yenagoa.
In his remarks, Diri said the state had huge potentials in fish farming adding that if properly tapped, would feed the state and the entire nation and as such, he proposed partnering and collaboration with the Federal Government to boost the fish production value chain.
He said that the state had planned to massively invest in rice production which would yield dividends by the end of the year.
In another event, the minister visited the Camp Tukur Burarti Army Barracks, he promised to complete the electricity project and energise the 500 KVA Transformer already in place in order to supply power to the Military Barracks and its neighboring community.
The minister, who also visited the Standard Live Bird Market located at the Swali market, Yenagoa, urged the people to maintain the project which would provide one stop shop for poultry farmers and increase their earnings.