The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh said government would benefit much if the subsidy channeled to oil is diverted to agriculture.
The minster stated this on Tuesday, 15th December, 2015, at an interactive session he had with the House Committee on Agricultural Colleges and Institutions at the National Assembly.
Chief Ogbeh said it was time for Nigeria to do something about the importation of food and check the illegal trade in rice and polluted chicken along the Seme and Cameroon borders saying, “Nigeria should look after herself before thinking about other neighbouring countries.”
The minister pledged his readiness to ensure that all the agricultural Institutes that were erroneously moved out of the ministry are brought back with a view to making their functions relevant to the needs of the agricultural sector. Chief Ogbeh said the essence of the Colleges of Agriculture was to produce a new generation of young farmers to take over from the old ones, adding that all malfunctioning agricultural research Institutes would be fixed.
The Minister promised to establish Extension Offices to be manned by extension officers in all the Local Governments in Nigeria in the next four to six years, with Students of Colleges of agriculture involved in the new extension system.
Chief Ogbeh disclosed the plan of government towards ending normadic cattle grazing through the drilling of water boreholes and introduction of quality grasses from abroad, saying, “Nobody roams around with cattle anymore.” He said that government cattle breeding programme would be private sector driven but fully supported by the ministry.
He said government would plant 500,000 seeds of Ogbono (bush mango) targeting the high demand of it in the United States, while also considering same in cashew and shea-butter. According to him, there would be an improvement in the quality of our export products.
Earlier in his welcome remark, the Chairman, House Committee on Agricultural Colleges and Institutions, Hon. Linus Abaa Okorie, said a key weakness of all past agricultural intervention policies and programmes has been the neglect of research and education drivers that are the engine of productivity in the agricultural sector.
Hon. Okorie after raising some concerns in the unregulated extension sub-system, instability in the management of research Institutes, warehousing of agricultural research activities, promised the readiness of the committee to work collaboratively with the ministry to urgently address the obstacles to agricultural modernization and consequent diversification of the economy.
Tony Ohaeri – Director Information
16th December, 2015