The Bayelsa Government said recently in Yenagoa that its investment in rice production would begin to yield returns before the end of the year.
The Deputy Governor, Mr Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, who said this at a meeting with traditional rulers from Nembe Local Government Area of the state, said the state had since subscribed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)-backed Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme (AADS) and Anchor Borrowers programmes with a view to revamping the state’s agriculture sector.
“By God’s grace we are going to eat our own rice from the various farms we have cultivated in different parts of the state.
“I can assure you (traditional rulers) that we will not buy rice from elsewhere to distribute to you during Christmas.
“The Anchor Borrowers and Outgrowers programmes are very key to food security.
“So, we are working with the CBN to ensure food sufficiency in our state.
“We are working to see how we can get credible partners to mill the rice,” he told the traditional rulers.
The deputy governor informed the traditional rulers that the government’s intervention in the agriculture sector was not only in crop production but in fisheries and poultry as well.
On security, he said the present administration was taking proactive measures to prevent the breakdown of law and order as experienced in some parts of the country.
The deputy governor urged the traditional rulers to complement government’s efforts at tackling insecurity.
He said a new security architecture involving all stakeholders would soon become operational in the state.
He underscored the importance of intelligence gathering and sharing in security management and directed the relevant ministries to install a temporary communication system on the Obioku corridor, with the expectation that other service providers would mount theirs own in the area.
Earlier in his briefing, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr David Alagoa, disclosed that at least 3500 rice farmers across the state were currently participating as beneficiaries of the AADS and Anchor Borrowers programmes.
Alagoa, who decried a situation where the state received almost all of its food supplies from outside, emphasised the commitment of the present administration to changing the trend through its two-pronged policy of food security and mechanised farming.
Describing the policy as participatory, he said government is ready to partner communities by providing the necessary inputs for farming and harvesting, play the role of an offtaker but would not buy or acquire any land.
On his part, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security Matters, Retired CP Akpoebi Agberebi, attributed the increasing frequency of communal crisis to lack of transparency and failure to follow due process during community elections.
He advised the royal fathers to synergise with government to curb crimes in their communities and announced the following numbers for the public to call for security purposes: 07006464644, 08166202333, and 08039662779
Also speaking, Mr Douglas Sampson, the Minority Whip and member representing Nembe Constituency 3 in the state House of Assembly, advised traditional rulers to do away with sentiments and cooperate with government to get rid of criminal elements in their communities.
The lawmaker also advised government to carry out diligent background checks on traditional rulers before issuing them with the staff of office as some of them were only interested in using their positions to get contracts from oil companies.
The traditional rulers commended the present administration for organising the meeting and appealed for upward review of their monthly allowances to enable them to perform their duties effectively. (NAN)