The Delta Commissioner for Economic Planning, Mr Kenneth Okpara, said on Thursday that the state allocated N6 billion to the agriculture sector in the 2013 budget to boost food production. Okpara, who made the statement while giving a breakdown of the budget in Asaba, explained that out of the amount, N2 billion had been set aside to buy modern tractors for farmers. He said that N1 .5 billion was also budgeted for the cassava development initiative programme in collaboration with the Federal Government.
Okpara said agriculture was one of the major pillars of the development agenda of the state government, adding that “it is the core of Delta-Beyond-Oil vision.’’ The commissioner said that apart from providing solution to the problem of hunger and malnutrition, agriculture played a central role in addressing the nation’s problem of unemployment and youth development. He restated the government’s desire to make the state remain on the part of massive food production for the population and the production of industrial raw materials through the establishment of small and medium scale enterprises. Also, that it was the responsibility of the state government to encourage and assist the people to engage in farming activities in order to provide food for consumption, “with surplus for sale and exports”. “Government has in recent times, paid considerable attention to the agricultural sector through increased access of our farmers to fertiliser, improved seedlings and establishment of agro-based small and medium scale enterprises. “The state is also involved in the National Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) and has provided N200 million toward it; it is also participating in the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) for fertiliser, cassava, rice, maize, oil palm, rubber, cocoa, aquaculture and poultry,’’ he said.
The Commissioner stated that the state government had also initiated action to modernize abattoirs in the state with a provision of N52 .2 million and explained that the effort was to ensure the processing of meat in hygienic environments. He said N102 .6 million had been allocated for the provision of veterinary services. He added that “to boost the source of protein for citizens, government has provided N30 .2 million for fish preservation, distribution and marketing.
NANS (News Agency of Nigeria)