Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh says if Rivers State can harness its huge ocean potentials, it can be hub of fish production in Nigeria. Speaking when he paid a courtesy call to the State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, in Government House, Port Harcourt, Ogbeh regretted that Nigeria spends about $600million to import fish.
“The potentials in Rivers State are huge even though there has been environmental pollution. Rivers State can also be a source of cassava, banana and plantain”, Ogbeh noted.
He suggested the need for the state to have an agriculture institute or school, which he pointed out will provide research and manpower in agriculture production.
The minister while regretting the neglect the sector has suffered over the years, reasoned that agriculture if exploited fully will reduce rural-urban migration and engage the teeming youths in productive ventures.
He pledged to collaborate with the state government in the area of acquiring land for farming activities and business, adding that, “We think the potentials of Rivers State go beyond oil and gas.”
Ogbeh intimated the governor that he was in the state to flag off the annual National Council meeting on agriculture being hosted by Rivers State.
Responding, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, noted that the plan to resuscitate the Rivers State University’s School of Agriculture was already being worked out, stating that the state has been able to survive the harsh economic climate due to its emphasis on agriculture.
Wike stated that agriculture has huge potentials, especially in engaging youth and reducing unemployment, hence, the state was planning to revive its moribund agric companies.
He informed the Minister of plans to rebuild the State Abattoir, stressing that the facility belongs to the state and not to the Federal Government as claimed in some quarters.
The governor while wishing the Minister and the participants at the meeting successful deliberations, counseled on the need not to politicize some key economic sectors such as agriculture.