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Oando, JV Partners Boost Agriculture In Niger Delta



Oando and its Joint venture (JV) Partners, Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) and the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), have invested in improving agricultural practices in Nigeria. Oando and its JV partners, weekend

held the 22nd edition of its annual Green River Project (GRP) / Farmers Day celebration in Igbo-ogene Bayelsa State.

In addition to creating the much- needed awareness on the importance of agriculture in spearheading the socio-economic development and economic diversification of the country, particularly in the Niger Delta, the initiative aims to make agriculture an attractive and accessible sector to the  youth and women through the use of modern farming techniques, formation of cooperative societies and access to micro-credit schemes and provision of the necessary support and tools.

Speaking on the need to awaken to the potential of the agriculture sector, President Muhammadu Buhari, through a video recording played at the event said, “Agriculture is the only way we can feed ourselves in a sustainable manner. Active participation in agriculture is our patriotic duty. It will create millions of jobs in the future. We cannot keep feeding ourselves with imported food when God has blessed us with natural resources, we cannot continue to create jobs abroad at the expense of young, energetic, willing and able youth.”

He further encouraged farmers who experienced a bad harvest as a result of the floods.

“ Don’t be dispirited, strive through the challenges. There is a compensation package for all affected farmers and fishermen. I want to assure all affected farmers we will help them. We the government are with you,” he said.

To support the agriculture sector, the federal government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) guaranteed a total of N1,422.4 million to 12,524 farmers under the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS) in the third quarter of 2018.

According to the CBN’s third quarter report, “The amount represented an increase of 53.1 per cent and 6.5 per cent above the levels in the preceding quarter and the corresponding period of 2017, respectively.”

The report went on to state that “Analysis by state showed that 33 states and the Federal Capital Territory benefited from the scheme with the highest and lowest sums of N210.8 million (14.8 per cent) and N0.9 million (0.1 per cent) guaranteed to Adamawa and Bayelsa States, respectively.Hence the onus lies on private companies in states such as Bayelsa that received the least amount to boost the agricultural sector.”

Speaking at the event, the chief operating officer, Oando Energy Resources, Dr. Ainojie ‘Alex’ Irune said, “We have built this initiative to outlive our generation. My hope is that future generations will experience the growth of this endeavor and the value it brings.

“The nation has a lot to learn from this initiative; in how you can take something small and transform it through unity and collaboration into something this successful and on such a grand scale. The onus lies on us as private sector partners and you to take advantage of this unique opportunity and propel your state to become an agro-export state.”

Mr. Lorenzo Fiorillo, vice chairman/managing director, NAOC highlighted the future plans of the Joint Venture for the Green River Project which includes proposed agro skills acquisition training for 350 youths in 2019; a planned empowerment and enhancement of businesses for 945 youth; extension of GRP activities to include four more communities in Bayelsa State and provision of relief materials to flood victims through the Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers and Imo States government.

He further explained that the theme of this year’s event was carefully selected because of the JV’s numerous projects geared towards empowering the youths in particular and the people of the Niger Delta in general.

Calling on more youth participation in future Farmers Day celebrations, Mrs Edina Osifo, a representative from NAPIMS said, “NAPIMS will continue support this venture to make it sustainable. Youths make the best of this initiative. It would be a pleasure to see a youth crowned the best overall farmer in 2019. I also call on women to get more involved.”

In his vote of thanks, the COO of Oando, Dr. Irune said, “Over 20 years ago someone decided that this was a good idea. Came together, pooled the resources, supported by people that aren’t present here today and everyone in this place to deliver what we are experiencing today. Without that vision we would not be here today. So I want to thank the NAOC Joint Venture and the FGN for their commitment in making this a reality today. We have a lot of work to do and with the support we have from all our stakeholders especially the farmers, we see a bright future ahead of us.”