Enugu State Commissioner for Agriculture, Engr. Micheal Ene has urged the federal government to encourage farmers by providing the facilities needed for a massive production of foods locally and increase the tariff of foreign foods to discourage importation. The commissioner said that Nigeria has fertile land to produce large quantity of food that would sustain the country and urged the participants to work hard, pointing out that agriculture is the only solution to recession. Ene, who made the call during the 2017 steering meeting of Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programm Phase 1 held at ENADEP, Enugu, said that they almost achieved the expected tons of rice. He pointed out that the meeting was organised to examine the report and documents concerning the programme to allow them brief the respective governors of the two states. The commissioner, who disclosed the importance of the programme as a means of creating employment and boosting the economy, lauded federal government for adding cassava production to the initially rice production programme. “The total aggregate rice demand is about six million tons for Nigeria; we are approaching about 3.5 million, leaving a gap of 2.5 but invariably a lot of foreign resources was used in importing foreign goods. “We can produce large quantity of food needed for the country because we have fertile land, but federal government need to discourage importation of foods to encourage locally produced food,” Ene said. The permanent secretary in the state’s Ministry of Agriculture, and chairman, Agricultural Transformation Implementation Committee, Hon. Ogbonna Idike in his remark pointed out that rice and cassava production programme would create job opportunities and ensure good relationship between the two state. Idike enjoined both Anambra and Enugu States to join hands to achieve greater success to the glory of their respective states. He urged all the stakeholders to partner with the farmers to make sure that the programme achieved its purpose. The zonal programme coordinator, Mr Egba Romanus said they did thorough sensitisation in the communities involved in the programme, adding that traditional rulers, presidents of town unions and other stakeholders were carried along. As part of their effort to empower the youths, he said that they had trained 33 youths from the 33 communities involved on seed production technology. He also disclosed that they awarded contracts for four health centres, eight boreholes and eight classroom blocks in Enugu and Anambra States.
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