Yenagoa — The Bayelsa State governor Mr. Seriake Dickson has called on the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, to partner with the state government to resuscitate the moribund rice farms in the state which have the potentials to provide jobs for the teeming youths of the state and Niger Delta.
The Governor, who spoke at the 21st Farmer's day day celebration under the Green River Project of the oil giant, said that the only route to achieve prosperity in Nigeria is self-reliance on agriculture and not over dependence on oil and gas.
Dickson, represented by his deputy, Rear Admiral John Jonah (retd.), implored Nigerians to embrace the emergence of agricultural revolution as a way of realising sustainable socio-economic development of the country.
He said, "I was very impressed with what I saw here because it is in line with what Bayelsa State, particularly in this time of oil infiltration that is taking place right from onset that Bayelsa must think beyond oil.
"With this, I state that there is no other way to go in this country today. The only route to go to prosperity, self-reliance is farming.
"These actions by Agip, not only to get our farmers empowered but also trained is very commendable and I urge you to continue with it. A good head with a good heart is what we need to move forward.
"Thankfully, Agip has a good head and heart and thus they gave to us. They have assisted in training and also empowering our young and old men and women who were once focused on oil as the only source of living and I am certain that they are benefitting from it today.
"I implore you all to embrace the emergence of agricultural revolution. We have the farms for it and the mechanized aspect has been inculcated in them."
He promised to cooperate with Agip, saying that he had seen the zeal in the company to advance the agriculture revolution of the country as well as the benefits the people had derived from their gesture over the years.
In his remarks, the Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, NAOC, Massimo Insulla, said the annual Farmers' Day was set aside by the company and its joint venture partners to celebrate the achievements of farmers over the last planting season.
Insulla, who said the celebration was the second in a row being hosted in Bayelsa, noted that for the past 30 years, the GRP had remained a continuous success as a prime source of employment and improvement of standard of living for various communities.
He said the project had also served as a veritable tool for sustainable development and food sufficiency, insisting that the annual project had continually offered the platform to individual farmers, farmers' cooperative society, youth's cooperative societies, women cooperative societies, agro-allied organizations to come together to showcase their products,, produces and services.
Insulla, who said the theme of this year's celebration, 'GRP: Actively leading the future of the Niger Delta', was chosen to highlight the contributions and preparedness of Agip JV scheme to support the development of the communities by boosting their capacity through training, extension services, technological support and knowledge transfer.
In his welcome remarks, the General Manager, District, Marco Rotondi, said the GRP which started in 1986 had been really visionary and pioneering in its gene.
He said that in the next 30years, Nigeria would be the third largest country by population after China and India and there was the need to rethink how the country treats and distributes her resources.
Rotondo said, "Access to food will be extremely crucial. In addition, Nigeria has the impelling need to diversify its economy, which is solely relying on oil and gas.
"It is easy to understand focus and drive to make farming very attractive and accessible and to encourage the youth and especially the women to embrace a modern and mechanized agriculture."