The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has advised youths in the country to embrace agriculture as he announced that the present administration would soon launched the “Invent Your Future” programme. The Minister gave the advice during an interactive session with a team of social media influencers in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory today.
The Minister informed the team that the Ministry would soon launched the ‘Invent your Future’ programme and advised the youths in the country to go into farming which is more profitable and to satisfy the urgent need for Nigeria to put the right mechanisms in place in order to feed its teeming population which he put at 450 million people in the next 33 years. “If you have a piece of land ,go into plantations such as banana, cashew nuts, coconut, plantain, sesame seeds, gum Arabic among other crops” , he stated.
Ogbeh noted that the average age of a farmer in Nigeria is 65 years old and said the Federal Government was taking proactive measures to mechanize agriculture by bringing in modern technology to attract young farmers into the sector.
The Minister enumerated various challenges facing the sector which include the high rate of interest rate by commercial banks and explained that the Bank of Agriculture were being restructured to serve as both commercial and development bank for farmers while branches will be opened at every local government area of the federation and government was working towards achieving a single digit interest rate loan for Nigerian farmers. He added that the Bank of Agriculture would be segmented to cater for every segment of the society which would include the youths.
He said the Ministry had taken various measures to address the issue of rejection of Nigeria’s agricultural produce by the European Union as a result of high level of pesticide with the setting up of an inter-ministerial committee on zero reject in ensuring certification, standardization and quality control of the country’s agro produce for local consumption and for export which had hitherto been a challenge.
Ogbeh announced that the first container of Yam from Nigeria landed in the United State of America last week and another container of Yam is billed to leave for the United Kingdom very soon. “If Nigeria’s yam can enter foreign market, we need to double our efforts to get tractors to make heaps”, he said.
To tackle the clash between farmers and herdsmen in the country, the Minister said 3,000 Agro Rangers were being trained under the Civil Defense to protect farms while lands were also being acquired in some states of the federation to create cattle colonies.
He said about 10,000 extension workers were also being trained under the N-power programme of the Federal Government to cater for the needs of Nigerian farmers.
The Minister disclosed that about 200 rice mills would be distributed to farmers next week and maintained that the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprise “LIFE” of his administration would create an atmosphere for food processing mills to be established in rural areas to create wealth and jobs for the rural women and youths.
Ogbeh disclosed that there is a budgetary provision in the year 2017 for the building of dams and lakes in order to have an all year round planting season and harvests and stated that the ministry has not endorsed the genetically modified organisms (GMO) but instead the ministry is adopting the use of hybrid seeds.
The Minister urged state governments to give more support to the development of agricultural sector and asked the team of social media influencers to pass the message of hope across to the public.
Oluwakemi Ogunmakinwa (Mrs.)
Chief Information Officer FMARD.
June 17, 2017