Written by Sarah NEGEDU

Minister canvasses agric subsidy

As the clamour for the removal of petroleum subsidy deepens in some quarters, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has called for the diversion of the subsidy fund to agriculture.

Ogbeh, who made the call at an interactive session with the House Committee on Agricultural Colleges and Institutions, said government would benefit much if the subsidy channeled to oil is diverted to agriculture.

The minister said it was time for the country to focus on the sector, saying this would open up the economy and provide job opportunities for its teeming population.

He said Nigeria must do something about the importation of food and check the illegal trade in rice and polluted chicken along the Seme and Cameroon borders saying, “Nigeria should look after herself before thinking about other neighbouring countries.”

Ogbeh pledged his readiness to ensure that all the agricultural Institutes that were erroneously moved out of the ministry are brought back with a view to making their functions relevant to the needs of the agricultural sector. 

According to him, the essence of the colleges of agriculture was to produce a new generation of young farmers to take over from the old ones, adding that all malfunctioning agricultural research Institutes would be fixed.

The minister also disclosed the plan of government towards ending nomadic cattle grazing through the drilling of water boreholes and introduction of quality grasses from abroad, saying, “Nobody roams around with cattle anymore.”

He said that government cattle breeding programme would be private sector driven but fully supported by the ministry.

Earlier in his welcome remark, chairman, House Committee on Agricultural Colleges and Institutions, Hon. Linus Abaa Okorie, said a key weakness of all past agricultural intervention policies and programmes has been the neglect of research and education drivers that are the engine of productivity in the agricultural sector.

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