Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture Audu Ogbeh
State governments should ensure Citizens’ Right to Food, comes immediately after their Right to Life, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, has mandated.
Ogbeh, who gave the charge at the Kogi State maiden Agricultural Summit, 2017, with the theme, Agriculture: Investment Opportunities,” and the launch of “Fair Agricultural Project” in Lokoja, challenged state governments to tackle issues of Food Security headlong.
The minister, who spoke through Prof. Gbolagade Ayoola, President, Farm and Infrastructure Foundation, said denial of rights of citizens to ask questions and hold governments accountable when their policies failed to address food issues was the “genesis of the Nigerian problem.”
He said if food security was addressed from the perspective of right, and policies were tailored to meet the food requirements of the people, government policies and programmes would be taken more seriously.
The Minister observed that plausible agricultural projects were often initiated by the Federal Government or external bodies, saying that most states had lost touch of the fact that the primary function of agriculture was production of food.
He commended Kogi State Government for blazing the trail, as the first to adopt the Bottom-top-approach in ensuring food security through the launching of its Fair Agricultural Project (FAP).
The State Governor, Yahaya Bello, commended the Federal Government’s giant stride in encouraging massive local production of rice, which had facilitated the current sharp drop in the importation of the product into Nigeria.
Bello, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Mrs Ayoade Folashade Arike, disclosed that his administration had keyed into the Federal Government’s programme of diversification, of the nation’s economy to agriculture.
He said that his administration had allowed youth and women’s participation in agriculture to reduce the alarming unemployment situation in the state, adding that government had also encouraged the exportation of agric products that are in abundant across the state such as cassava and rice.
Facilitator of the programme and Managing Director of the Kogi Agricultural Development Project (ADP), Paul Okatahi, in his remark, challenged Youths to embrace agriculture, saying: “There are no longer White Collar Jobs to absorb them in the labour market.”
Okatahi also called on the traditional rulers in the state not to relent in playing their complementary role of mobilizing and sensitising their subjects to embark on agriculture, describing “The Sector as the only alternative for citizens to earn a living with ease.”
The State Commissioner of Agriculture, Kehinde Oloruntoba, commended the state overnment gesture to declare a state of emergency on Agriculture by embarking on mechanised system of agriculture, to ensure food security and boost massive local production of agric products. The commissioner said
Governor Bello’s administration procured tractors and other farming equipment worth billions of naira as well established 1,000 fish ponds, and another 1,000 boreholes to enhance agricultural activities across the state.