The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has reiterated its commitment to transforming the region’s agriculture sector.
The NDDC interim Administrator, Dr Effiong Akwa stated this during a ceremony for the presentation of Honorary Awards organised by the Catfish and Allied Fish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFFAN) in Port Harcourt.
Akwa, who was represented by the NDDC Director Of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr Felix Amorue, said the commission was committed to transforming agriculture from its current rudimentary level to modern commercial business that would guarantee food security not just for residents of the Niger Delta region but for other Nigerians.
He added that the NDDC has kick-started the plan through its programmes targeted at increasing productivity in the region’s agricultural sector, especially in the fisheries sub-sector.
He said, “Agriculture remains a key sector with enormous potential to create employment for our teeming unemployed youths.
“The NDDC has consciously embarked on the implementation of our master plan on agriculture. The Commission through the Directorate of Agriculture and Fisheries has over the years carried out several programmes aimed at increasing the Agricultural/Fisheries productivity in the region.”
According to him, the capacity building programmes of the NDDC has also taken the form of women and youth empowerment.
He noted that over 15,000 youths, women and practising farmers had been trained on various agricultural businesses, he further explained, adding that the Commission has concluded plans to train and empower additional 2,000 youths and women across the region.
Also, he said in collaboration with the Bank of Agriculture (BoA), the NDDC provided credit to 120 cooperative groups of youths and women to carry out various agricultural enterprises in the Niger Delta region.
Furthermore, he said the NDDC in its quest to lift the women and youths of the region out of poverty, has partnered with the Federal Government and the International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD) to roll out another programme for selected people in the region.
Under this scheme, he noted that that the commission has targeted about 45,000 women and youths in the region.
“The Commission had in the past empowered over 2,500 fisher folks with fishing gears, boats, outboard engines, hooks, nets, fish boxes, floater sinkers and other fishing accessories to increase the exploitation of offshore fishing in the riverine communities in the region”, he added.
Also, Akwa noted that the Commission had established two rice mills to boost the Federal Government initiative of home-grown and self-sustainable rice production.
“The rice mills are the 120 tons per-day Rice Mill at Elele-Alimini in Rivers State. This mill is currently being managed by Elephant Group for the Commission and the 10 tons per-day Rice Mill at Mbiabe Ikpe in Akwa Ibom State,” he added.