By Ewache Ajefu/Editor
The Minister of State for Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, on Monday urged the private sector to establish agro-based industries in the territory as part of efforts to increase food production.
The minister, who made the call at the 2012 World Food day organised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, advised that food production should not be the sole responsibility of the government.
She noted that the new policy thrust of government was to empower the farmer groups and the private sector to drive the agricultural transformation process.
“The challenge before us is to produce food for the teaming population in this country. This cannot be seen as the responsibility of the government alone. The private sector should take up the challenge of establishing agro-based industries in FCT in particular, since there are tremendous potentials and elaborate marketing outlets for these products,” said Akinjide, who was represented by her Special Assistant on Area Councils, Mr. Peter Fwa.
She assured that the FCT Administration was ready to collaborate with any viable group to promote agriculture in the nation’s capital, particularly in the areas of improved farm inputs distribution, tractor hiring services, produce marketing and other value chain processes.
“We have registered in the FCT, 8000 cooperative societies of different economic backgrounds. These include primary, secondary and Apex cooperative organisation with total membership of about 1.2 million.
“The FCT has already keyed into the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of the present Administration, and is at the forefront. Under the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES), FCT has surveyed and captured over 50,000 farmers in its Data Bank. Of this number, a total of over 38,000 farmers have benefited from 3,279 metric tonnes of assorted fertilizers and improved seeds,” Akinjide revealed.
GES is one of the key initiatives under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda aimed at revamping the agriculture sector, ensuring food security, diversifying the economy, and enhancing foreign exchange earnings.
The minister advised small scale farmers to unite and form viable commodity groups to maximise their entrepreneurship.
“The FCT Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat (ARDS) under the Farmers Technology Empowerment Programme and the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement has procured 80 tractors, with complete set of implements which have been distributed to FCT large scale farmers and farmers’ cooperative groups through the Area Councils for the farming season,” she added.