Akwa Ibom State Government said prioritizing robust investment in the agriculture sector is a prerequisite to guaranteeing a prosperous and healthy future for the people of the state.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Offiong Offor, disclosed this on Monday in Uyo, where he confirmed that the state’s plantation project across local government areas could pass 10,000 hectares in the next four years with a commitment to engagement of young farmers.
Against the poor mentality and orientation of the people towards agriculture in the state, Dr Offor advocated a change of meaningful progress which could be made on enhancing agriculture to make it attractive to people, especially the youth.
In her words: “In the West, 3% of people engaged in farming there see themselves as top shots but in Africa, this part of the world, we are not proud of what we do as farmers. So we need to change the narratives.
“Times are evolving and changing. We need to move away gradually from reliance on crude oil. Now we have electric cars that do not use petrol but you can never have electric food. Food is food especially in Africa the way God made it and it will always be so.
“So we need to understand that the primary duty of man is agriculture. That is what God primarily gave man as a blessing and what you eat determines how you live. If you eat well, you go less to the hospital. So we need to sustain that in the minds of the people.
“Farming is not something derogatory but something everyone of us who have farms should be proud of. Grow something at whatever level it is. Be involved along the value chain.”
Governor Eno’s trip, Offor added, to the famed Songhai Farms in Benin Republic was an eye opener and would aid the state government in adapting to its own model in its agricultural revolution drive.
On the future of the LG Plantation programme, she said, “We are going to have more and people are willing to offer more land. For instance we set up a plantation in a location in this state and another community came up and said we are giving you 200 hectares because they have seen some of the other people benefit and make more incomes
“So people buy into it. It will not just be limited to 100 hectares per Local Government, some LGs are willing to double the 100 hectares even now and you can imagine what it will be in the future.”