By Ihechinyere Chigemeri-Uwom
Umuahia – Dr. Mohammed Umar, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, says plans are underway to institutionalise Agricultural Regional Forum in Nigeria to fast-track the attainment of food security and self-sufficiency.
Umar said this on Tuesday in Umuahia during the opening of the 43rd National Council on Agriculture, with the theme, “Consolidating the strategies of the Agricultural Promotion Policy for Economic Diversification and Growth.”
The permanent secretary, who was represented by Dr. Amin Babandi, said that it was necessary to start implementing programmes that could facilitate the establishment of the forum in different geo-political zones.
He said that the technical reports from the forum would form the memoranda of the National Council of Agriculture.
Umar said that the initiative would fully align, synchronise and integrate with programmes and policies aimed at enhancing the nation’s agricultural sector.
He said that the Federal Government remained committed to agricultural development in order to provide adequate food for the nation’s increasing population.
Umar charged delegates to exchange ideas on Nigeria’s agricultural development process by assessing the effects of extant policies, fine tuning existing strategies and overhauling the initiatives for achieving food security.
According to him, “We must develop our agriculture through ensuring that we create programmes that will be supported both at the state and federal levels.
“We must identify crops and commodities in our respective states that will bring about food security and have export potentials.
“We must evolve programmes targeted at livelihood improvement of our citizenry,” Umar said. He said that the federal government, in collaboration with state governments, would create agro-ecologies, based on commodities of comparative advantage in each state to enhance nationwide agricultural productivity.
In his address, Chief Chinedum Elechi, Abia Commissioner for Agriculture, said that the event would provide opportunity for extensive deliberation by stakeholders in the agricultural sector.
Elechi described the meeting as timely, adding that the recommendations of the council would facilitate the formulation and implementation of sustainable agricultural programmes and policies.
Also, Mr Nasir Adamu, the Director of Planning and Policy Coordination, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, described the theme of the event as apt.
Adamu, who was represented by Mr Paul Oranachu, said that the meeting would consolidate the efforts of the federal government in using agricultural initiatives for socio-economic development of Nigeria.
He said: “I encourage participants to focus their interests on the development of agriculture in the country.
“Our investment in the sector will continue to promote entrepreneurship, aid value addition, widen employment opportunities and ensure food security in the country.”
In separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), some of the participants expressed the hope that deliberations during the event would facilitate the development of agriculture in Nigeria.
Mr Uche Ejike, a civil servant, said: “We expect that at the end of the meeting, programmes and policies will be formulated to enhance agricultural productivity.”
Also, Joy Ezekiel, a fish farmer, said that it was important to bring issues about agriculture to the front burner because of its contribution to the nation’s economic development.
NAN reports that the five-day event was attended by stakeholders from across the country and will feature presentations and discussions of memoranda, among other things.