The Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has disclosed that the goal of his administration in the next two years is to ensure that farmers in the State cultivate a minimum of 250,000 hectares of farmland.
Obaseki said this at the weekend during the 13th Esan Economic Empowerment Workshop, with the theme: “Modernising Agri-business in Esan Land for Economic Empowerment,” organised by the Association of Esan Professionals.
He explained that agriculture is at the centre of the economic reconstruction programme of the Federal Government as well as Edo State government due to the sector’s potential to create millions of jobs.
“This initiative is in line with my administration’s commitment to creating 200,000 jobs for Edo people, which we promised during our electioneering campaign,” the governor said.
He said agriculture is being embraced in Edo State due to the incentives his administration is providing to make access to land, fertiliser and other inputs easy for farmers.
He further said that his administration has revamped the Edo fertiliser plant in Auchi to enable farmers to have the same type of fertiliser after proper examination of the soil to ensure healthy crop production.
“We have equally revamped the College of Agriculture in the state to train our farmers and help them with the required knowledge to grow healthy agricultural products for export.”
Obaseki said the Gelegele Sea Port is another important project that will help in the export of finished agricultural products.
He urged the youths to embrace agriculture as his administration is creating the enabling environment for large-scale farming, easy access to land and improved seedlings.
“Agriculture is now scientifically done and mechanisation will help us compete in the international agricultural market.”
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe, congratulated the organisers of the workshop and pledged the support of the federal government for their programme.
The Minister who was represented by the State Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Edo State Office, Omoragbon Wellington, assured that the Federal Government would support the group in the area of capacity building and supply of processing machines at a subsidised rate.
The president of the Association of Esan Professionals, organisers of the workshop, Barr. Mathew Egbadon, said the association was established with the sole objective of serving as a non- political platform for the Esan people to contribute their quota to the development of Esan land.
He said the association has established Esan Education Trust Fund to assist indigent students in accessing quality education.
Egbadon said the association is focusing on agriculture because Esan people have a comparative advantage in the sector with the vast land available for farming.
A highlight of the event was the presentation of a cash gift of N500, 000 to three schools for coming tops in a quiz competition organised to test their proficiency in Esan language.
The cash reward was to encourage proficiency in Edo languages in line with the state government’s resolve to promote Edo culture.