By Friday Idachaba
Lokoja – Mr Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development has tasked state governments to give issues of food security priority and tackle them from the perspective of citizens’ Right to Food.
Ogbeh gave the task while speaking at the 2017 Kogi State, maiden Agricultural Summit with the theme Agriculture: “Investment Opportunities” and the launch of “Fair Agricultural Project” in Lokoja.
The minister was represented at the event by Prof. Gbolagade Ayoola, President, Farm and Infrastructure Foundation.
Ogbe said if food security was addressed from the perspective of rights and policies, tailored to meet food requirements of the people, government policies and programmes would be taken more seriously.
The minister noted that though credible agricultural projects were often initiated by the Federal Government and external bodies, most states had lost touch with the fact that the primary function of agriculture was to produce food.
He commended the Kogi State Government for blazing the trail, as the first to adopt the Bottom-top-approach in ensuring food security through the launch of its Fair Agricultural Project (FAP).
Speaking earlier, the Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, commended Federal Government for encouraging local rice production which he noted had facilitated the drop in the importation of the product to the country.
Bello, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Ayoade Arike, said his administration had keyed into Federal Government’s diversification policy and its agriculture programme.
He also said his administration allowed youths and women to participate in agriculture to reduce unemployment rate in the state.
Bello said the state government had also encouraged the exportation of cassava and rice and other agricultural products.
The Commissioner of Agriculture, Mr Kehinde Oloruntoba, in his remarks also lauded the state government for declaring a state of emergency on agriculture.
This, he said, it did by embarking on mechanised agriculture to ensure food security and boost local production of agriculture products.
The commissioner said the state government also procured tractors and other farming equipment, worth billions of naira, and established 1,000 fish ponds as well as digging 1,000 boreholes across the state to enhance agricultural activities.
Mr Paul Okatahi, facilitator of the programme and Managing Director of the Kogi Agricultural Development Project (ADP), however, challenged youths in the state to embrace agriculture.
He said the challenge became was necessary because; ‘there are no longer white collar jobs to absorb youths in the labour market.“
Okatahi also called on the traditional rulers in the state not to relent in playing their complementary role of mobilising and sensitising their subjects to go into agriculture.
He said the agricultural sector remained the only alternative for citizens to earn a living with ease (NAN)