The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has praised rural farmers, and affirmed that they feed the teeming population in Nigeria and play a prominent role in the social security of the country. Chief Ogbeh made this known at Otukpo, Benue State, during the distribution of stems of improved varieties of cassava to farmers on Saturday.
At the event, held within the palace of the Ochi Idoma, Chief Ogbeh noted that these rural farmers forestall food insecurity and food crisis, and therefore deserved government’s support. The programme is implemented by the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) Nigeria, a World Bank-funded programme, working under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
The cassava stem distribution is one of the three projects WAAPP is implementing in Benue State in collaboration with the University of Agriculture, Makurdi (UAM), according to the acting national coordinator of WAAPP Nigeria, Mr. James Apochi. The projects, according to him, include fish fingerlings multiplication, cassava stem multiplication and adopted village extension programmes in no less than 12 villages in the state.
The cassava project, Apochi noted, is to stimulate domestic production of cassava, provide employment for the youth, boost rural economy and reduce hunger and poverty. Professor John Adisa Ayodele, representing the vice chancellor of UAM, disclosed that the university is poised to put the vast agricultural land belonging to the university to use in support of boosting production. According to Ayodele, the university has land large enough to participate in the expansion of the programme. He therefore pleaded for the extension of the WAAPP programme to the second stage after the expiration of the current phase.