Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello has called for more commitment to the development of the agricultural sector of the country as part of efforts in diversification of the nation’s economy and enhancing food security.
He made the call on Thursday while attending the 2nd National Commodity Alliance Forum with the theme: “Enhancing Productivity and Market Opportunities for Cassava Value Chain”, organised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
At the event which was held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel , Abuja , Governor Yahaya Bello stated that the nation has not done enough to attain food sufficiency.
Governor Bello noted that a lot needed to be done in terms of agricultural development as it remains the mainstay of the economy of the country.
He charged leaders at the various levels to take the matter of agriculture more seriously.
According to him, if 10% of the time, energy, publicity, resources channeled into “the glorified malaria otherwise known as COVID-19” is given to Agriculture, Nigeria would have been seen to be moving toward food sufficiency.
He noted that the lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent #EndSARS protests have exposed the country to the reality of the level of poverty in Nigeria.
He said the youths who invaded warehouses across the country did not do so to sell the looted food items but to feed.
As a state, he said his administration has done very well in the area of agriculture, noting that during his first term in office, the state established a 50-tonnes per day Rice Mill Which is churning out at least, 1,000 bags of 50kg processed rice daily today.
On the value chain of the rice mill, the governor stated that the mill has 500 kilowatts Bio-gasification plant that is powering the plant and the host communities, to take care of power generation and distribution.
He said the mill was providing thousands of direct and indirect jobs and injection of N120m into Kogi State IGR monthly which he noted, activates the diversification drive of the “New Direction Government”.
The governor disclosed that the mill is raising over 5,000 outgrowers(rice farmers) which were never in the chain before, stating further that the rice mill is stimulating the economy of the state aligning it to purposeful commerce, Agriculture and places Kogi as one of the leading rice producers in Nigeria.
Governor Bello said his administration was also doing well in the area of cassava production and processing while commending various agricultural productivity partners within and outside the nation.
The Governor received an award in recognition of his partnership and support for cassava and rice value chains development in Kogi State.
The Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP), according to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was a six-year project of the Government of Nigeria funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
The project he said, aims at improving incomes and food security of poor rural households engaged in the production, processing and marketing of rice and cassava on a sustainable basis.
He said the VCDP was originally implemented in six states of Anambra, Ebonyi, Ogun, Niger and Taraba.
“As a result of the programme success and the commitment of some states governors in improving agricultural development, the VCDP received additional finance for expansion into three states of Kogi and two others”, he said.