Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta says the state government is partnering with farmers in the state to commence export of plantain and garri flour to the United Kingdom.
The governor, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Mr Tam Brisibe, stated this on Monday at an occasion to mark the World Food Day in Asaba.
He noted that the state has a comparative advantage and ranked best within the country in the production of plantain and garri, a by-product of cassava.
The governor said the theme of the Day, “Change the Future of Migration, Invest in Food Security and Rural Development,” was in line with the state government’s agricultural empowerment programme.
Okowa said that the world in the last few years recorded great migration of people, particularly the youths, from the rural to urban centres in search of jobs, safety and security. He said that the incidence of migration had remained a global challenge and a threat to agriculture.
“Plans are at advanced stage to ensure that Delta joins agricultural crop exporters; we are looking at the possibility of exporting red and white garri and plantain flour to the UK.
“The export programme will facilitate and improve agricultural production activities in the rural areas in respect of cassava production and plantain thereby reversing the trend of rural-urban migration,” Okowa said.
The governor also said the solution to the challenge was in the provision of farming methods to attract youths as well as provision of lands and other incentives to the farmers while boosting rural development. He said the state agricultural programme was tilted to the rural areas which had encouraged and empowered many youths, women and retirees in returning to farming.
“Seventy five per cent of the state population reside in the rural communities and this administration has put up programmes to develop youths and women through agricultural empowerment programmes.
“We are creating enabling environment for our rural farmers through rural electrification, water and beautification projects across the 25 Local Government Areas of the state.
“Rural urban migration is a threat to food security and as the youths migrate to the urban centres they leave farming to the elderly and aged farmers in the rural areas; this is also a challenge to the urban centres.
“So, we must develop the rural areas to make migration to the urban less attractive and to invest in food security,” he said.
Earlier, the State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Chief Austin Chikezie, said the state government had adopted community friendly and sustainable agricultural practices.
“Such practices include co-operative farming, cluster fish farming, cluster youths empowerment programme and promoting peaceful herdsmen-farmer’s meetings. This is vital to promoting peace in the community, reducing youth restiveness, creating jobs, increasing youth income and reducing rural-urban migration,” Chikezie said.
He said government had keyed into the Central Bank’s Anchor Borrowers Programme and other initiatives to boost oil palm, rice, fish and cassava to ensure food security, create jobs and wealth.
The display of produce for exhibition and sale by the farmers and the presentation of Certificates of Participation by the state government as well as the recognition of some outstanding efforts by some farmers were the high points of the day.