By Ifeanyi Olannye
Ubisi (Delta) – Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta on Wednesday launched the harvest and sales of fish under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers Programme in Okelle Farms, Ugbisi, Udu Local Government area of the state.
Okowa commended Mega Fish Farmers Co-operatives Union for keying into the programme known as “Private Window’’ in line with the states agenda.
The governor said the agricultural sector suffered neglect over the years due to dependence on oil in spite of its potential to create jobs, food and develop the country.
Okowa stressed the need for Nigerians to embrace agriculture because oil was no longer dependable.
He urged people not to continue to depend on government alone for support and called on well meaning Nigerians and community leaders to support people to go into agriculture.
The governor, who lauded the CBN for spending N1.2 billion so far on the programme, said the programme had succeeded in producing 2,046 tonnes of fish in four months.
“We are happy when this window came and CBN, Bank of Agriculture supported us in rice, cassava and aquaculture (fish) production.
“I am glad to hear that the Mega Fish Farmers have employed over 2,000 workers and currently training 300 youths.
“I wish to thank you for embracing this programme and it is my hope that in the next five years, you will record more successes.”
He advised the people to sustain atmosphere of peace to ensure security and development in the area and the state at large.
The Branch Controller, CBN, Asaba, Mrs Elizabeth Agu, said that CBN had so far spent N1.2 billion on the Private Window of the programme, which has over 4,000 fish farmers.
She commended the participating farmers for effectively utilising the funds made available to them for expansion as well as engaging more people in the scheme.
Prince Niyi Akenzua, Executive Director, Finance and Risk, BOA said that the bank was committed to keeping its mandate of ensuring that the people were empowered through agriculture.
Akenzua said the partnership between the state government and the farmers should be strengthened to ensure empowerment of the rural communities through agriculture.
Earlier, Mr Chris Egwuyenga, Chairman, Mega Fish Farmers Cooperatives Union, said with the support being given to the programme t the state would soon be placed on the map of fish cultivation in Nigeria and abroad.
“It will interest you to know that Mega Fish Farmers with 682 profiled farmers for the first batch has turned out 2,046 tons of fish.
“This translates to employment, generated directly and indirectly, of over 2000 workers in line with the state agenda and prosperity for all.
“Still under the programme, about 300 youths are undergoing training with us to acquire fish farming skills.’’
“Through this programme designed by CBN and with the support of the state government, we are optimistic that food security in terms of protein requirement of Deltans is assured,” Egwuyenga said. (NAN)