The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has disclosed plans by the Federal Government to set up a Labour Intensive Family Enterprise (LIFE) agricultural programme with food processing mills across the country.
A statement by the Director, Information in the ministry, Mr Tony Ohaeri, quoted the minister as making this disclosure during a meeting with a delegation from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) led by the Managing Director, Programme Development and Technical Co-operation, UNIDO, Mr Philipe Scholtes, in his office in Abuja.
Ogbeh said that Staple Crop Processing zones should be developed for the country to attain food sufficiency to feed her fast growing population and for export adding that, Staple Crops Processing Zones have been identified as one of the major factors for achieving economic diversification in the country.
The minister lamented the high interest rate of agricultural loans in the country and called for its reduction to five per cent to make loans repayable and profitable to farming.
He expressed Nigeria’s appreciation to its development partners, particularly UNIDO, for their support and continued interest in the development of the country’s agricultural sector and solicited more support to attract private investors in the implementation of the Staple Crops processing zones in the country. Ogbeh explaind that assistance would be required in the establishment of export certification laboratories in Nigeria to serve the West African Region.
While seeking more assistance in the provision of water and pasture for the animals to reduce roaming and clashes with cattle rearers and farmers, the Minister assured that government would collaborate with state governments to create dams and deep wells for the development of grazing sites.
According to him, the Ministry will also need support for the revival of the Cotton and Textile Industries as well as Food and Dairy Production. He disclosed that a roundtable meeting between the Minister, Financial Institutions and Development Partners on how to move the country’s Agricultural Sector forward would soon be convened.
Earlier in his remarks, Scholtes said that the team was in the ministry to seek improved collaboration with the Nigerian government and discuss on the agro industrial development of the country. Scholtes said in 2010, the Abuja declaration mandated UNIDO and other development partners to deal with Agro-business, industrialization and job creation in Africa. He said UNIDO has been working with the Ministry in the development of the Agribusiness sector of Nigeria. The Managing Director who came in the company of the National Programme Officer, UNIDO, Mr. Chuma Ezedinma said that his organization aside the technical support, would facilitate the financial resources to establish the staple crops processing zones in the rural areas of the country as a result of its relationship with Development Banks.
He added that UNIDO would continue to partner with the ministry on the execution of the Master Plan in Five (5) sites of the Staple crops processing zones in Nigeria