The Yobe agricultural summit is aimed at moving 70 per cent of the farming population from subsistence to commercial agricultural practice, Governor Mai-Mala Buni has said.
On Monday the governor declared open a week-long agricultural summit that had Nigeria’s major players in the agricultural sector in attendance.
Speaking Monday in an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES on the ongoing event, Governor Buni said ”it was high time Yobe state began to take its rich agricultural potential to the next level”.
“Since time immemorial, we have been doing the business of agriculture in the same old way and our farmers have not made the most out of it,” Mr Buni said.
“Yobe is an agricultural state; about 70 per cent of our populace are farmers, and if we must take our people out of poverty, then we have to review our approach to agriculture.”
Mr Buni said the summit ”was not only put together to learn how to produce more crops but how to harness the agric potentials of the state”.
“This summit was ‘idealised’ to bring together experts to brainstorm on best approaches and practices that can help advance the business of agriculture in Yobe state,” he said.
“We have made promises during our campaigns that we would revolutionise agriculture in our state, and as we are committed to fulfilling that promise, we wouldn’t want to start with a faulty step.
“To get it right, that was why we invited those that matter in the field of agriculture to come and show us the way.
“We must have a clear cut roadmap for a revitalised and industrialised agricultural practice in Yobe, and that is what the summit intends to achieve.”
The governor said at the end of the summit, he expects the experts, who were drawn from the real sector and the universities across the country, ”to come out with an implementation timeline which the state government would methodically implement in the coming months”.
The governor said there was never a better time than now for the state government to start thinking on how to harness its vast agricultural prospects.
“Yobe State has just stepped out of the insurgency of which poverty and joblessness have been major causative factors,” he said.
“It was not for the fact that our people have stopped farming that there is poverty and joblessness; rather it is because we have not been able to turn around the agric sector in such a manner that it would be in tune with modern best practices.
“Our commitment now is to ensure our agric products are produced and packaged for export and not only for local consumption.
“We want improved revenue for our farmers, we want to create a value chain for most of the crops we produce; we want to introduce mechanised farming and better storage, as well as farm, produce processing outfits that will not only improve harvests but create jobs for our youths.”
In the area of security of farmers, the governor said: “the government cannot abdicate its responsibility in the areas of healthcare, education, and agriculture because of insecurity.”
“We give thanks to God that we have seen peace emerging here in Yobe State, and the best way to sustain it and improve on the gains, is to provide basic livelihood to our people.”
Governor Buni said the private sector ”will be brought in as partners to develop various fields of agriculture in such a way that the local people of Yobe would immensely benefit from such partnership.”
The four-day summit is expected to wind up tomorrow.