ASABA/Nigeria: Over 10,000 cuttings of improved varieties of cassava have been distributed among 176 farmers for multiplication in 2018.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr Austin Oghoro, disclosed in a television broadcast to herald this year’s World Food Day which comes up today, 16th October, 2018.
Mr Oghoro, who noted that cassava production had been given due attention stated that twice the number would be provided in the next planting season to ensure that the improved high yielding cassava varieties were proliferated in the, adding that it was with a view to producing enough tubers that can sustain our industrial drive in the sub sector.
The Permanent Secretary said that the state government had also provided support toward rice cultivation, stressing that In the current year, farmers had received support that culminated in the cultivation of upland and lowland rice on about 300 hectares.
Assistance to rice farmers, he noted, would be increased in the next planting season to accommodate dry season cultivation, saying that three crops, namely cassava, rice and oil palm have support for the development of the entire value chain to serve as game changer for the agricultural sector.
According to him “From inception, the administration of His Excellency, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, the Governor of Delta State has demonstrated a strong determination (through the SMART agenda) to reshape the agriculture sector and make it a driver of growth and development in the State. To this end, the administration has brought about profound change in our agricultural systems through various programs and projects. Dominant among them is the oil palm development program which has witnessed the cultivation of over 3,000 hectares by about 1,000 small/medium scale farmers; the target of government is 15,000 hectares by year 2023. To ensure success of the program, the oil palm nursery of the MANR has been increased from one to three locations.”
Continuing, he said, “In an attempt to achieve food security and end hunger in the State, the Delta State Government has adopted multiple approaches. Youth – In – Agriculture program is top on the list to increase production and create jobs. Conscious efforts have also been made to encourage small scale farmers to scale up to medium scale level and operate commercially. Access to agricultural finance has been made easy. In addition, Government is putting measures in place to facilitate access to land which is key to arable crop production and indeed agricultural transformation.”
Mr Oghoro disclosed that aquaculture development had been chosen as one of the vital means of ensuring adequate intake of protein and creation of jobs, highlighting that a good number of youth were engaged in fish farming in the state.
He said that in order to step up production, two fish farms clusters had been established at Ewulu and Mbiri and that both had the capacity to produce 50.1 metric tons of fish per cycle, saying a new production cycle at the two locations would commence soon, stressing that efforts to put in place a policy to regulate the production of fish and related activities in the fish industry was ongoing.
While stating that all the interventions by the state government were carried out with loans at single digit interest and with very generous tenor, Mr Oghor said “To promote the production of animal protein, a Broiler Out Growers’ scheme has been put in place in collaboration with AMO Farms Ltd. Prospective farmers have been selected and production will commence in the weeks to come. A piggery program is running currently with twenty five (25) farmers engaged – harvest is due in December for the first cycle with an estimated output of 107 metric tons.”
He however noted, “Our efforts at achieving zero hunger had not been without some challenges. Apparently, the most daunting one is flooding. A good number of our farmers have suffered huge losses this year due to flood and in some cases, loss of lives was involved. While we sympathize with those who suffered losses in their farms, we extend our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. Meanwhile arrangements have been made to capture the details of all farm losses at the various IDP camps and the Area Offices of the Ministry of Agriculture in the affected Local Government Areas. We implore farmers who were affected by the flood to go and register.”
The Agriculture and Natural Resources Permanent Secretary revealed that the state government was working in collaboration with relevant federal government agencies on ways and means to assist farmers who were adversely affected by the flood, adding, “And in our resolve to stamp out hunger by the year 2030, new agriculture programs will be introduced to support our great farmers in the next budget year.”
While saying that the theme of this year’s celebration is “Achieving Zero Hunger” the Mr Oghoro said it was a call for increased actions towards achieving zero hunger by 2030.
“Although the level of food production in the World is on the increase, he said, adding, “Many people in several countries still suffer from the twin evil of hunger and poverty due largely to conflicts, extreme weather conditions and other adverse phenomena such as tsunami, earthquake, hurricane, flood etc. In spite of the hostile elements listed, the world can achieve zero hunger through collaborative efforts with respect to adaptation and sustainable farming methods.”
The World Food Day is an annual event celebrated worldwide on the 16th of October to mark the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Organization. The objective of the annual celebration is to create awareness on the nature and extent of World food problem and measures put in place at sub national, national and international levels in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.