Abia State Government Has Trained 300 Beneficiaries In Various Agriculture Value Chains

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Abia state governor, Dr Alex Otti OFR has made a case for the establishment of agricultural ventures across Nigeria as a panacea to food insecurity.

Governor Otti made the call during a capacity building training programme for the first batch of 300 candidates selected for agricultural training at CSS Global Integrated Farm Nassarawa state.

The Governor emphasized the role of agriculture in not only addressing issues of food security but also in curbing unemployment and fostering socio-economic stability

While underscoring the need for all to embrace agriculture for sufficiency, Governor Otti highlighted the whooping figures of over 7.8 trillion Naira spent by the Nigerian Government on food imports over the past six years.

He pointed out that the country is blessed with abundant arable land and as such should not be burdened with exorbitant import bills, stressing the need for a paradigm shift and the urgency of stakeholders to take the issue seriously.

“It is a shame that a country of over 200 hundred million people with so much arable land, reputed as largest producers and cultivators of food items spend so much money importing food.

“Statistics show that in the last six years, this country has spent about 7.8 Trillion Naira to import food.
In 2021,we spent about 1.9 trillion naira. 2022 & 2023 we spent about about 2 trillion Naira each year importing food, so to put it in contest, our Budget for 2024 is somewhere around 28 trillion; 27.5 trillion and then upgraded to about 28 trillion.

“Don’t also forget that this kind of numbers were not seen between 2015 and 2019.The budget numbers were hovering around 7-10 trillion. So when you spend over 11% of your total buffet importing food, it is a big shame, particularly when you are blessed with land.

“If you contextualize it further, when you look at the total import bill, including technology, manufacturing, and every other thing, it (Budget) dis somewhere around 20 trillion. It’s over 10% of the total import bill.

“The World Bank says between 11 to 12% of our total import bill is in food. If you understand these numbers, then, you’ll know that what we are doing here ( capacity training) is not a joke and you’ll take it very serious”, Gov Otti stated.

The Governor while noting that the two weeks agricultural training is aimed at enhancing local food production, urged trainees of the programme to be good ambassadors of the state as well as leverage the opportunity and equip themselves with the knowledge and skills to spearhead agricultural transformation in the state.

He reassured participants of comprehensive support, saying that the state government would cover all expenses from inception to completion of their agricultural training.

Governor Otti who thanked the founder and CEO of the CSS Global Integrated Farms, Prof John-Kennedy Opara for his support to the present administration, expressed commitment to ensuring the success of the agricultural training programme.

He urged Prof. Opara to establish the agric farm in Abia state and promised swift land acquisition processes facilitated by the state government with Certificate of Occupancies (C of O) processed within 30 days in a digital format.

In a presentation titled; “Agricultural Development And Food Security- The Path To Human And Capital Resources Development”, the Founder and CEO of CSS Group of Companies,Nasarawa Prof. JohnKennedy Opara, said God has
destined Governor Alex Otti to lay a solid foundation in Abia upon which his successors would operate on, adding that Abia of today is no longer number one in alphabetical order only but in action because of the presence of a visionary leader in the person of Dr Alex Otti.

He noted that by the training of the first batch of 300 Abians in various agricultural value chains, governor Otti is empowering the youths to be creators of wealth and employers of labour thereby ending joblessness, hunger, criminality and poverty among the youths.

“Abia is today number one in paper and in action because of the visionary leader in the person of Governor Alex Otti.

“With the investment of Otti Abia can produce, package and export garri, yam and other agricultural produce to the world” Prof. Opara stated.

In their remarks, the Commissioner for Agriculture Professor Monica Ironkwe and Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture,Dr Cliff Agbaeze thanked God for the gift of Governor Otti who has really shown in practical terms that he is on a mission to rebuild Abia, through life transforming programmes and policies.

He noted that the 300 beneficiaries were carefully selected from wards to be trained in various agriculture value chains

, adding that with the gesture and other proactive steps taken by governor Alex Otti, Abia would in the near future, feed the whole Nigeria.

The programme manager Abia ADP , Mr Chukwudi Onuoha said ADP would monitor all beneficiaries at the end of the training to ensure that they implement all they would learn in the state, while the leadership of the various LGAS would do a follow-up to ensure they retrain others in whatever value chains they are trained.