Urhobo tasked on commercial agriculture



Farming

A university teacher, Prof. Johnson Ekpere, has urged the Urhobo nation to adopt commercial agriculture to improve its economic standard.

He made the call at Ughelli yesterday, while presenting a paper at the 4th Oja Kona Summit.

Ekpere urged the people to unlock the potential of agriculture as a business to enhance its welfare and livelihood.

According to him, this is in line with the national policy on agriculture, which required substantial investment to unlock.

He said: “The challenges which the Urhobo nation is facing in food security, employment, poverty reduction and the overall sustainable livelihood and welfare, call for a radical departure from agriculture as a way of life. There must be a systematic, well-planned and managed process to agriculture as business.”

Ekpere urged the people to seek investment partnership with various stakeholders in the country, adding that it was necessary to support the Delta State’s direct investments in agriculture production in the area

In line with this, he said the state had organised an investment summit a few years ago, with agriculture and agribusiness as a major theme.

He added: “Several states of the federation are currently using economic summit as a veritable tool for inviting willing investors to be part of their development agenda. Public Private Partnership (PPP) is also currently in widespread use in other sectors of the economy.”

He said the same approach could be applied in Urhoboland to seek and encourage investment partnership in agro-industrial business enterprises.

Ekpere canvassed the adoption of innovative partnership that could bring together government, including local councils, the organised private sector and the small-scale farmers for enhanced agricultural production.

He expressed concern that the Cowan Rubber and Palm Oil estates in Urhoboland, have not ben expanded beyond their original capacity after they were nationalised.

He lamented: “The personal investments in rubber plantation by Mowoe in Amukpe, Jathomas in Oghara, Scout Emuakpor in Evwreni, as well as the small-scale farms of rubber and other export crops of the past could not be sustained.”

According to him, some of these rubber farms have become obsolete, partly as a result of the discovery of petroleum in the Niger Delta.



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