The state commissioner for agriculture has described local farmers in Akwa Ibom as constituting the support base for agricultural production in the state.
Dr. Offiong Offor stated this when she hosted Senior Executive Course 44, 2022 of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Plateau State, in Uyo, recently.
Presenting a paper on the theme, “Strengthening Local Governance in Nigeria, Challenges, Options and Opportunities,” she noted that 70 per cent of farmers involved in agricultural production reside in rural areas, thus they form the support base for agriculture production in the State.
“Akwa Ibom State is currently producing vegetables like onions, cucumber, tomatoes, green and red pepper in greenhouses in different parts of the state. Farmers have been trained on how to raise these vegetables at the nursery level to cultivation stage. This is a way of taking governance to the grassroots,” she said.
According to her, Gov Udom Emmanuel has done creditably well in strengthening agricultural production at the local level, as instituted in the policy thrust of the state government’s Completion Agenda, in order to achieve food sufficiency, enhance industrialisation, create wealth and generate employment.
Offor averred that the recently commissioned coconut oil factory at Mkpat Enin Local Government Area is set to produce 22 tons of virgin coconut oil per shift and will provide employment opportunities in Akwa Ibom.
She pointed out that Governor Emmanuel has given free inputs to crop and livestock farmers, established coconut plantations in different local government areas and revived practical agriculture in public primary and secondary schools, all geared towards achieving food sufficiency goals and strengthening local governance of the state.
The commissioner said the challenge where farmers found it difficult to access finance to boost agricultural production has been properly addressed through the establishment of Ibom FADAMA Microfinance Bank for the issuance of revolving loans to farmers.
The team lead, Brig. Gen. Chukwuemeka Udaya, revealed that the purpose of their visit was to carry out investigation on the impact of the state government’s agricultural policies on the local people, compile a report and forward it to the Federal Government for necessary action.
The event featured an interactive session and the presentation of a memento to the commissioner by the team leader, Brig. Gen. Chukwuemeka Udaya MNI (rtd).
On her part, the permanent secretary in the ministry appreciated the team for the visit and assured them of the ministry’s readiness to collaborate with Agro-based organisation in the state.
The event had in attendance high ranking personnel of the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Air Force, the Nigerian Police Force as well as directors in the Ministry among others.