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HomeAbia State DiaryFOOD SECURITY: ABIA TO TRAIN 300 FARMERS AT NASSARAWA FARM

FOOD SECURITY: ABIA TO TRAIN 300 FARMERS AT NASSARAWA FARM

 

Governor Otti and Prof John-Kennedy Opara rub minds during the meeting.

Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, OFR, has said that one of the ways Nigeria can solve the problem of food security is through the mechanisation of farming and establishing such businesses across the states of the federation.

Governor Otti said with this measure, Nigeria would have found a panacea to food security amid rising import cost.

The Governor made the call on Thursday during a capacity building training for the first batch of 300 candidates selected for agricultural training at CSS Global Integrated Farms, Nassarawa State.

He stressed the role of agriculture in not only addressing food security but also in curbing unemployment and fostering socio-economic stability.

While underscoring the need to embrace agriculture for food sufficiency, Governor Otti said that a whoping N7.8 trillion was spent by the Federal Government on food imports over the past six years.

He pointed out that Nigeria is blessed with abundant arable land and as such should not be burdened with huge import bills, stressing the need for a paradigm shift and for stakeholders to take the issue seriously.

“It is a shame that a country of over 200 million people with so much arable land, reputed as largest producers and cultivators of food items spend so much money importing food.

“Statistics show that in the last six years, this country has spent about 7.8 trillion Naira to import food.

“In 2021, we spent about 1.9 trillion Naira. In 2022 and 2023, we spent about about two trillion Naira, each year, importing food. So, to put it in contest, our budget for 2024 is somewhere around N28 trillion; N27.5 trillion and then upgraded to about N28 trillion.

“Don’t also forget that this kind of numbers were not seen between 2015 and 2019. The budget numbers were hovering around 7-10 trillion Naira. So, when you spend over 11% of your total budget importing food, it is a big shame, particularly when you are blessed with land.

“If you contextualise it further, when you look at the total import bill, including technology, manufacturing, and every other thing, it (Budget) is somewhere around N20 trillion. It’s over 10% of the total import bill.

“The World Bank says between 11 to 12% of our total import bill is in food. If you understand these numbers, then, you’ll know that what we are doing here (capacity training) is not a joke and you’ll take it very serious,” Governor Otti stated.

The Governor while noting that the two weeks agricultural training is aimed at enhancing local food production, urged trainees of the programme to be good ambassadors of the State as well as leverage the opportunity and equip themselves with the knowledge and skills to spearhead agricultural transformation in the State.

He reassured participants of the programme of comprehensive support, saying that the Government would cover all expenses from inception to completion of the agricultural training.

Governor Otti, who thanked the Founder and CEO of the CSS Global Integrated Farms, Prof. John-Kennedy Opara, for his support to the present administration, expressed commitment to ensuring the success of the agricultural training programme.

He urged Prof. Opara to consider establishing a farm in Abia State and promised swift land acquisition process, backed up with Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), delivered within 30 days.

In a presentation titled; “Agricultural Development and Food Security – The Path to Human and Capital Resources Development”, Prof. Opara, said God had destined Governor Otti to lay a solid foundation in Abia upon which his successors will build.

He said that Abia of today is no longer number one only in alphabetical order but in action because of the presence of a visionary leader in the person of Governor Otti.

Prof. Opara, while calling on leaders to give agriculture priority attention in the midst of biting economic hardship, noted that Abia can overtake the likes of Israel in food production and export and can feed the whole of West Africa.

He said that by the training of the first batch of 300 Abians in various agricultural value chains, Governor Otti is empowering the youths to be creators of wealth and employers of labour, thereby ending joblessness, hunger, criminality and poverty among the youths.

In their remarks, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Professor Monica Ironkwe and Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture, Dr. Cliff Agbaeze thanked God for the gift of Governor Otti, who has really shown in practical terms that he is on a mission to rebuild Abia, through life transforming programmes and policies.

Prof. Ironkwe noted that the 300 beneficiaries were carefully selected from wards to be trained in various Agriculture value chains, adding that with the gesture and other proactive steps taken by Governor Otti, Abia would in the near future, feed the whole Nigeria.

 

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