The Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has saluted farmers, rural women, food processors, distributors and other actors in the agricultural value chain for their contributions to human existence.
Obaseki gave the commendation on Monday in commemoration of the World Food Day, October 16 each year, set aside by the United Nations in honour of the founding of Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in 1945 and other organisations that are committed to ensuring food security.
“As the world celebrates the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and other institutions that work tirelessly in mobilising actions to check threats to food security across the globe, I wish to salute farmers, rural women, food processors, distributors and other actors in the food value chain for their contributions to human existence,” he said.
He added that “despite the myriad of challenges that farmers face over access to land, inadequate agricultural loans, seedlings and other farming inputs in Nigeria, our farmers have remained resilient in their desire to put food on our tables, which according to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchical order of human needs, is a non-negotiable need and basic to survival.”
According to the governor, a country’s ability to feed her population is a major hallmark of development and lauded “the efforts of individuals and groups whose skillful hands bring forth the food we eat.”
He explained: “Our appreciation of the potential in agriculture, whether manifest or latent, explains our government’s adoption of the sector in our economic reconstruction strategy, which will deliver much of the jobs we are creating for Edo people and our industrialisation drive.”
He stressed that the theme of this year’s celebration “Change the Future of Migration, Invest in Food Security and Rural Development,” is apt, and a clarion call on world leaders to take good governance and development to the people at the grassroots to check life-threatening migration.
According to him, “In Edo State, the goal of my administration in the next two years, is to ensure that farmers in the State cultivate a minimum of 250,000 hectares of farmland. We have taken some bold steps in this direction with the maize farm project in Sobe, Owan West Local Government Area of the state, where harvest is currently ongoing.
“We have commissioned the Edo State Fertiliser and Chemical Company Limited in Auchi, to make the product easy for our farmers in the state and beyond to access. The College of Agriculture in Iguoriakhi is being revamped to produce world-class graduates with the right capacity to change the face of agribusiness in the state.”
Noting that there is a holistic strategy adopted in transforming agriculture in the state, he said, “We have just received the Technical Report on the Development of the Gelegele Sea Port, a project that is very dear to my heart, and will on completion, serve as the gateway to the global market for agricultural produce and other economic goods produced in the state and the southern region.
“Our trip to the Asian continent to firm up agreements with Indonesian and Malaysian companies and partners has illuminated our plan to develop an industrial park in the state and make Edo State the oil palm capital of the nation through mechanisation.”
Obaseki said the role of rural women in food production is worth highlighting on a day like this, as the United Nations set out October 15, as the International Day for Rural Women. He added that with the 2017 celebration themed, “Challenges and opportunities in climate-resilient agriculture for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls,” it was pertinent to applaud the role of women in driving sustainable agriculture, as they make up 75 percent of Nigerian farming population, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.