Agip, N’Delta Farm­ers Part­ner on Multi-mil­lion Naira Green River Project

THISDAY - - BUSINESS WORLD - Em­manuel Ad­deh in Ye­nagoa

The Nige­rian Agip Oil Com­pany’s (NAOC) in col­lab­o­ra­tion with farm­ers in the Niger Delta has floated the multi- mil­lion naira Green River Project (GRP) in Ig­bo­gene, near Ye­nagoa, Bayelsa State.

Agip said it was moved by the need to pro­vide an al­ter­na­tive for youths who have em­braced kid­nap­ping, oil theft and pipe­lines van­dal­ism as a means of liveli­hood, not­ing that the project would en­cour­age en­trepreneur­ship.

Present at the event were rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Gov­er­nor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, Nye­som Wike of Rivers, Rochas Oko­rocha of Imo and the Bayelsa Gov­er­nor, Se­ri­ake Dick­son, who was rep­re­sented by his Deputy, Rear Ad­mi­ral John Jonah ( rtd).

Chair­man of NAOC, Um­berto Car­rara, in his ad­dress, noted that the suc­cess of the pro­gramme in the last three decades was a tes­ti­mony to what per­sis­tence and co­op­er­a­tion could achieve, not­ing that the com­pany will con­tinue to sup­port food se­cu­rity in the coun­try.

“It is my plea­sure to note that the lit­tle seed we sowed 30 years ago, by es­tab­lish­ing the NAOC JV Green River Project has grown and pro­duc­ing good fruits as ev­i­denced here. The im­pacts in the com­mu­ni­ties have been im­pres­sive”, he said.

On his part, the ViceChair­man and Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, NAOC, Mas­simo In­sulla, said the 21st edi­tion of 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.

He said the cel­e­bra­tion themed, ‘GRP: Ac­tively lead­ing the fu­ture of the Niger Delta’, was the sec­ond in a row be­ing hosted in Bayelsa, not­ing that the co­op­er­a­tion be­tween farm­ers and Agip had been a source of em­ploy­ment and im­prove­ment of stan­dard of liv­ing for var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties.

Aside the new farm, In­sulla said Agip was col­lab­o­rat­ing with the univer­sity of Port Har­court on ex­ten­sion ser­vices and other ma­jor Nige­rian aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions to in­te­grate agric as an al­ter­na­tive to oil theft, pipe­line van­dal­ism and bunker­ing.

The MD added that a 10-hectare plant prop­a­ga­tion cen­tre had been com­pleted in Kwale, Delta state, a cold room in Twon- Brass, Bayelsa, a bread bak­ery in Olug­bo­biri, in­clud­ing the pro­vi­sion of 5,000 poul­try birds to farm­ers.

He added that 17,000 plan­tain suck­ers, 2,500 cas­sava stems, 350 kilo­grams of maize seeds, 2,000 seed yams and 850,000 finger­lings were pro­vided for farm­ers in the re­gion dur­ing the year un­der re­view.

In his wel­come remarks, the Gen­eral Man­ager, District, Marco Ro­tondi, said there was the need to re­think how the coun­try treats and dis­trib­utes her re­sources.

‘‘ 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”, he said.

In his com­ments, Dick­son, who was rep­re­sented at the event, said the only route to achiev­ing pros­per­ity in Nige­ria was self- re­liance driven by agri­cul­ture and not to­tal de­pen­dence on oil and gas.

‘’ With this, I state that there is no other way to go in this coun­try today. The only route to pros­per­ity and self- re­liance is farm­ing.

‘’ These ac­tions by Agip, to not only get our farm­ers em­pow­ered but also trained is very com­mend­able. They have as­sisted in train­ing and also em­pow­er­ing our young and old men as well as women who were once fo­cused on oil as the only source of liv­ing”, he said.

The un­veil­ing of the ex­pan­sive NAOC/GRP farm, fol­lowed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing ( MoU) the com­pany signed with farm­ers in the re­gion at an event last year, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with sev­eral banks.

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