By Edwin Nwanojuo
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has charged the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development (NCARD) to articulate and provide policy direction that would improve enabling environment for investors in Agriculture sector and strengthen the development of the sector to ensure food security, diversification of the economy, employment generation and sustain livelihood in the country.
Chief Ogbeh said this in his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the of the 43RD Meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development held in Umuahia, Abia State.
The Minister said that he witnessed and appreciated the commitment and resilience of Agriculture stakeholders in value chain development towards achieving food security, employment generation and wealth creation in the country, adding that the dedication encourages the government to step up its efforts of facilitating infrastructure and incentives for increased private investment in the economy.
Ogbeh who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr. Mohammed Bello Umar said that the theme of the Council ‘’Consolidating the Strategies of the Agricultural Promotion Policy for Economic Diversification and Growth’’ is to transform this administration’s Change Agenda into Mr. President’s Next Level Mantra.
Ogbeh recalled that the stakeholders of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development (NCARD) at the 41st Meeting held in Kano in 2016 led to the articulation of 2016 – 2020 Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) and its Investment Financing and Implementation Plan (IFIP). He maintained that his engagements and commitments of the stakeholders in the four years of this administration show that (NCARD) has all it takes to move Agriculture sector to the Next Level.
The Minister, in the light of collaborations, acknowledged the steady support of the Abia State Government in the implementation of policies, programs and projects of Federal Government States and other Stakeholders in the public and private settings, assured them collective responsibility of promoting trade and investment in Agriculture across the states of the Federation.
Earlier, the Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu who was represented by the Deputy Governor of the State, Honourable Ude Ogochukwu welcomed National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development to Abia State. He thanked the Honourable Minister, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and other stakeholders for chosen Abia State to host 43rd NCARD.
Governor Ikpeazu said that the theme of the Council ‘’Consolidating the Strategies of the Agricultural Promotion Policy for Economic Diversification and Growth’’ is remarkable and timely because of the need to exit mono-economy.
He said that the Council’s responsibility is to assess the effect of extant policies and strategies, and fine-tune the existing initiatives for the attainment of food security in the country.
The Governor said that the government of Abia state has Agriculture as a priority for food production, employment creation and revenue generation, especially in palm produce, rice production, cassava and vegetables amongst others. He commended the efforts of federal Government and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for creating enabling environment for farmers through the reduction of interest rate to a single digit to farmers, the privatization of Bank of Agriculture (BoA) and the Anchor Borrowers Scheme driven by Central Bank of Nigeria.
He said that Abia State Government will continue to collaborate with Federal Government and partners in the continuous payment of counterpart funds for the development of Agriculture sector and diversification of the economy.