In order to leverage on the favourable investment platform of Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), on the agricultural value chain for the purpose of job and wealth creation, the Delta State Government in collaboration with NIRSAL has organized a two day technical engagement to fashion out the way forward in the agricultural sector in the state.
Speaking at the workshop, the Delta State Governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, described the agricultural sector as the net major employer of labour, saying that it occupies the pride of place in the policy priorities of his administration.
According to Governor Okowa, “As the net major employer of labour in the state, the agriculture sector, occupies the pride of place in the policy priorities of our administration. It is our desire, therefore to leverage on the favourable investment platform of NIRSAL on the agricultural value chain for purpose of job and wealth creation.
“It is my hope that this two day technical workshop in collaboration with NIRSAL will give birth to new and appropriate initiatives that will facilitate the development of agricultural business models that are suitable for identified areas of collaboration.
“We are determined to give the necessary support and incentive to all stakeholders, from the upstream to the downstream segments of the agricultural value chain. I believe that this collaboration with NIRSAL will help to achieve this.
“Over the years, we have deployed huge resources to take advantage of available opportunities in the national and international space to support our farmers and attract investors to the state.”
The governor who was represented by the Chairman, Delta State Investments Development Agency (DIDA), Hon. Paul Nmah, said that there cannot be a better incentive than a situation where commercial banks are covered by loan guaranteed up to 70% by default borrowers as is currently the practice under NIRSAL’s Special Credit (Loan) de-risking Scheme of the CBN.
Governor Okowa stated that the state government has taken some measures to create an enabling environment for agriculture and agribusiness to thrive which include ensuring easy and unencumbered access to agricultural land through the promulgation of the ‘Delta State Public and Private Properties Protection Bill, 2018’ which prohibits forceful and illegal occupation of public and private landed properties.
The repositioning of the Delta State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (DARDA), for effective extension service delivery; having an elaborate strong force in veterinary doctors to ensure safe and effective veterinary public health delivery services and provision of agencies, infrastructure and investment incentives such as micro, small and medium enterprises development fund.
He also stated that ongoing agricultural intervention programmes in the State include the FADAMA III Project, the CBN-Anchor Borrowers Scheme, the Feed the Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity, the CBN Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme and the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises- Niger Delta.
Earlier, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Hon. Julius Egbedi said that the technical engagement workshop was organized because of the emphasis the Delta State Government placed on the agricultural sector.
Hon. Egbedi said that Delta State was blessed with rich agricultural resources and the government was willing to partner with agencies and investors to harness these resources.
The agriculture commissioner stated that the Ministry of Agriculture has been in the forefront of promoting agric-business in order to ensure food security, provide raw materials for industries and to create employment.
According to the commissioner, “The emphasis over the year has been on the development of agricultural value chains for commodities in which the state has comparative advantage…in this regard; Delta State has made considerable progress in crops, livestock and aquaculture development.”
He state that considering the specialized services offered by NIRSAL in mitigating risk in agric-business, the state government has considered it necessary to collaborate with the agency to fashion out models to de-risk agric-business in the state and consequently expand the scope of operations in line with the agricultural transformation agenda of the state government
Present at the workshop were the Chief Economic Adviser to the Governor, Dr Kingsley Emu, the Chief Job Creation Officer, Prof. Eric Eboh, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Sir Austin Oghoro, NIRSAL top officials, University dons and other agricultural sector stakeholders among others.