The Federal Government has again expressed reassuringly, her determination to diversity from the oil Mono- economy to an agriculture based driven economy. The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri confirmed this today at the Akassa Development Foundation (ADF) National Stakeholders Conference held in Abuja.
Senator Lokpobiri who was represented by his Special Technical Assistant on Agribusiness Ms Eniye Ambakederemo submitted that the development of the agricultural sector will ensure increase commodity output, enhance raw materials supply to industries, aid value-added industrialization, create employment opportunities and improve rural Socio-Economic well-being. He said this is why as a Nation; we are treating agriculture as a business through public enabled and Private-driven initiatives in the use of technology, entrepreneurship,market and partnership to effectively diversify the economy.
This Administration, the Minister said has focused on taking advantage of our fundamentals by redirecting attention to agriculture in its entirety to empowering our people in a productive and sustainable manner. He stated further that this present Administration is treating agriculture as a business to ensure food security, create wealth and provide employment and take us from being an import dependent country that spends an average of $22 billion annually on wheat, rice, sugar and fish imports to a self-sufficient nation with surplus for export to earn foreign exchange.
The Minister promised to deliver shortly to the Akassa Development Foundation Rice Mills for processing rice that is largely grown in this island in Bayelsa State, some fish smoking Kilns and also some improved rice seedlings to rice farmers. The Minister assured the Akassa people that Government will work with them to upscale agriculture that can be replicated in other communities in the state and by extension in other states.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the chairman of Akassa Development Foundation (ADF) Arch. Harcourt Adukeh said the foundation established in 1997 is a Corporate Community Based Organization (CBO) of the people of Akassa clan in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. It is a flagship Community Social Responsibility (CSR) pilot project of Statoil (Nig) Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Norwegian International Energy Company, Statoil ASA, in the Niger Delta. It is also the flagship of Pro-Natura International (Nigeria) an NGO which specializes in developing capacities of local communities so they can lead their own developmental strides. Arch Adukeh affirmed that though not too easy, twenty years down the road, looking back some achievements have been recorded, some of these are the emergence of a developed human capital base in the areas of entrepreneurial skills and other artisan skills (Computer, Wielding, Carpentry, Fashion and Design etc) and in infrastructural development e .g. Roads, Bridges and Culverts, Construction and or renovation of Education and Health infrastructure dotting the landscape of the clan.
Other Speakers at the event included Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, Mr. Nsima Udo Ekere, the Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Mr. Paul Piche, the Managing Director of Statoil Nigeria Ltd., and a former Director of Pro -Natura International (Nigeria) Chief Bill Knight, a Western from New-York (USA) who has lived in Nigeria for 35 years and was honoured with a chieftaincy title by the Riverine Niger Delta being a Pioneer facilitator of participatory Community driven development in Nigeria, especial in Akassa Clan.
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