FG Drafts Agricultural Blueprint to Diversify Niger-Delta Economy
The Federal Government, on Monday, commenced the process of developing policies to fast-track the implementation of Agricultural Projects in the diversification of the Niger Delta economy. This is aimed at improving the livelihood of Niger Deltans and the entire Nigerians through agriculture.
The laudable initiative supported by development partners and Rome based Agencies led by the Food and Agriculture Agency of the United Nations, would benefit the region and Nigeria as a whole, in the areas of food security, job creation, reduction in security issues and creation of more industries.
The Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, while declaring open a High Level Multi Sectoral Stakeholders meeting on “Emergency Agricultural Projects in Diversification of Niger Delta and Nation’s Non-Oil Economy” in Abuja said, the global reduction in the demand and oil prices underscore the compelling need for the country to pay attention to agriculture as an alternative to oil.
Agba said “It is no longer news that the global narratives and trends are changing, as oil is gradually losing its relevance. Countries are moving towards electronic machines and automobiles as well as solar energy. It is imperative that government must change its policy direction and do something different this time around”.
The Minister also stressed that the move was indeed timely as it was expected to cushion the effect of the diverse and severe impacts of Covid -19 pandemic currently ravaging the whole world.
He assured that the Niger Delta Economic Diversification Framework would be integrated into the new National Development Plans which were currently been developed..
“The Niger Delta region span over 20,000 square kilometres and it has been described as the largest wetland in Africa. The region is endowed with loamy soil, which is suitable for the production of both food and cash crops. It falls within the tropical rain forest zone. The ecosystem of the area is highly diverse and supportive of numerous species of terrestrial and aquatic, flora and fauna and human life”, he narrated.
The Minister however, reiterated that the Federal Government could not achieve the diversification initiative alone. “This Administration will need the support and cooperation of the States and Local Governments, Private Sector, Domestic and Foreign Investors, Development Partners, Technical Institutions, Farmers Associations, Host Communities, as well as well meaning Nigerians, to succeed in repositioning the economy to a sustainable path of growth”.
The landmark initiative of diversification of the Niger Delta region is said to be the brain child of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang. The idea was bought into by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and is also supported by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of environment and the River Basin Authorities within the region.
In a goodwill message at the meeting, Food and Agriculture Organisation Country Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Suffyan Koroma, said International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) was currently funding Projects in Niger Delta to the tune of over $600 million.
Speaking earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Olusola Idowu, said “It is time to strategise so we do not face another war against hunger. The effect of Covid -19, if not deliberately tackled, may live with us through this generation. It is therefore timely to diversify and enlarge our economic space”.