Akpabio Promises UNIDO to Revamp Agriculture
02 Jun 2011: Peter Inyang
Akwa Ibom State, Governor Godswill Akpabio, has pledged to fight food insecurity in Nigeria by assisting the United Nations Development Organisation (UNIDO) to revamp agriculture. The governor told the visiting UNIDO delegation led by Mr Mpoko Bokanga that he would help them maximize the production of palm oil produce as a pilot scheme, saying Nigeria lost focus on agriculture when oil was first discovered.
“The world can only reckon with us if we can feed ourselves and maximize our potentials in agriculture,” he said. He expressed readiness to offset part of the Federal Government’s counterpart funding to the UNIDO, Common Fund for Commodities (CFC); Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) programme, pending subsequent refund.
He said as soon as the state government received an authorization letter from the Federal Ministry of commerce, the modalities would be set in motion to clear the balance. He also assured the delegation to approve any facility to UNIDO and to ensure security of lives and property of experts and expatriates sent to work in the state.
He stressed the need for the international organs to do a pilot scheme to see how beneficial it would be to the state, adding that the state had a number of abandoned palm plantations that could be used to the project. He regretted that past administrations in the country neglected agricultural sector in preference to oil money and restated his commitment to embark on agricultural revolution in order to solve food insecurity.
He said his government, during the first term delved into certain areas to boost agricultural production by ensuring adequate supply of fertilizers to farmers; distribution of tractors, etc, while over 2500 youths had been trained under the Integrated Farmers Scheme project of his government.
Mr Bokanga had told the governor that their visit to the state was to access oil palm projects funded by Cameroun and Nigeria. He disclosed Nigeria is expected to contribute $500 million to the UNIDO budget of $4.6 billion, while Cameroun will contribute $800 million.
He said the UNIDO would build oil palm mills as pilot schemes in some states, to provide an opportunity for small land holders. He said Ondo and Akwa Ibom State had been selected for oil palm production of about two tonnes per annum in 1,000 hectres and would involve about 500 farmers.