RMRDC calls for cluster development in agriculture
September 27, 2012 17:31
Enugu, Sept. 27, 2012 (NAN) The third National Agricultural Exhibition and Symposium opened in Enugu on Thursday with a call for the establishment of clusters for the development of agriculture.
The Director General of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, Prof. Peter Onwualu, who made the call, said the cluster project would go a long way in solving the multiple problems in agriculture.
Onwualu said the council had commenced the reactivation of clusters in the country, using cashew, oil palm and moringa.
``You can actually do these in a small scale. We need people to register as cluster operators. For all these to succeed, we must transform agriculture from subsistence level to commercial level,`` he said.
The DG urged the private sector to buy into the strategies mapped out by the government for the transformation of agriculture, saying that it would lead to effective and efficient implementation of the agenda.
He regretted that Nigeria had spent about N1.5 trillion on agriculture related imports including rice, wheat, sugar and fruits.
In a message to the event, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, said the government introduced the agricultural transformation agenda to enhance agriculture in the country.
Akinwumi, represented by the Regional Director in the ministry, Dr Uche Nwafor, said the government had restructured the sector to involve the private sector.
He said the ministry had commenced the registration of genuine farmers to ensure that they received various farm inputs, including fertilisers and seeds, among others.
``Agriculture is no longer a development programme; rather we are working with value chains,`` the minister said.
He said the government would soon commence staple crop processing zones in the country, adding that studies on the project had already begun.
The Minister of Water Resources, Mrs Sarah Ochekpe, in her remarks, stressed the need to bridge the gap between the ministries of agricuture and water resources.
Ochekpe, who was represented by the Managing Director of Anambra/Imo River Basin Development Authority, Mr Onu Oluwa, said such synergy would help in achieving the strategies for the development of the sector.
According to her, the water resources ministry will provide all the necessary cooperation for the actualisation of the growth of the agriculture sector for sustainable national development.
The minister urged the participants to pursue the outcome of the symposium with utmost seriousness in achieving the agricultural transformation agenda.
Declaring the event open, the Enugu State Governor, Mr Sullivan Chime, represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Prof. Martin Anikwe, said the state was ready for agricultural revolution.
Chime said the government was implementing all the policies for rapid development of agriculture in the state.
Earlier, the organiser of the symposium and President of Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Dr Theo Okonkwo, said the event, which started in 2010, was its contribution to the economic development of the country.
Okonkwo called on well meaning Nigerians to invest in commercial agribusiness to reduce the dependence on the oil sector.
The highlight of the event was a tour of exhibition stands by the participants. (NAN)