The Federal Government is making plans to diversify the oil-rich economy of the Niger Delta sub-region.
The proposed plan, being arranged in collaboration with technocrats and development partners, is geared towards developing a policy framework to diversity into agriculture.
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, disclosed these at a stakeholders’ meeting held in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
The meeting was on the proposed Emergency Agricultural Projects in Diversification of Niger Delta and Nation’s Non-Oil Economy.
Agba explained that the initiative seeks to launch an emergency agricultural intervention project to create jobs for the vast majority of youths who are without jobs.
He added that the project was important to fall in line with the global shift away from oil.
The junior minister noted that the project is being backed by international partners including the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
Other partners are the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, River Basin Authorities in Niger Delta, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and the Ministry of Environment.
“It is no longer news that the global narratives and trends are fast changing as oil is gradually losing its relevance. Countries are moving towards electronic machines and automobiles as well as solar energy.
“It is imperative that the government must change its policy direction and do something different this time around,” Agba said.
The minister pointed out that the agricultural potentials of the region made it a focal point for the projects.
According to him, Niger Delta, described as the largest wetland in Africa, is endowed with loamy soil which he is suitable for the production of both food and cash crops.
Agba also called for support from all stakeholders – states and local governments, the private sector and domestic and foreign investors.
The minister also stressed on the importance of support from development partners, traditional institutions, farmer associations and host communities to bring the plans to life.
On his part, the FAO Country Representative, Suffyan Koroma, disclosed that IFAD is presently funding rural development projects in the Niger Delta with $60 million.
Koroma, who was represented by Fred Kafeero, noted that the financing window for the project has commenced under the technical leadership of FMARD.
On the other hand, the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning is acting as the representative of the borrower.