The Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), has acquired a farm in Bayelsa State to train youths, women and local farmers in the Niger Delta on agriculture as part of its efforts to stop restiveness in the region.
The oil giant also provided over 5000 poultry birds, 17,000 plantain suckers 100 banana suckers, 2,500 bundles of cassava stems, over 500 pineapple suckers and 350kg maize seeds to farmers in the region within the year.
The Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, NAOC, Massimo Insulla, said at the weekend that the agricultural initiatives were all part of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company’s Green River Project.
Speaking in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, at the company’s 21st Farmers’ Day celebration, Insulla said over 2,000 yam seeds and 850,000 fingerlings were also distributed to farmers.
He said the multinational in partnership with its joint ventures trained about 300 youths in agro-skills acquisition programme adding that NAOC inaugurated a 10-hectare plant propagation centre in Kwale, Delta State.
“To further strengthen and sustain the future of Niger Delta, Eni companies in Nigeria have embarked on training of over 1000 vendors in capacity Development initiatives through our various programmes.
“We have commitment to the Nigerian Content Development Management Board (NCDMB) to provide one year specialist subsea engineering training for 10 NCDMB nominated engineers.
“We have subsisting Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) with Standard IBTC, Zenith Bank, and UBA for provision of credit facilities to our vendors at favorable rates”, he said.
He said the annual Farmers’ Day is a project of the company and its joint venture partners designed to celebrate the achievements of farmers over the last planting season.
Insulla, who said the celebration was being hosted for a second time in Bayelsa added that in the past 30 years, the project remained a prime source of employment and improvement of standard of living for various communities.
He said the project served as a tool for sustainable development and food sufficiency, insisting that the annual project offered the platform to individual farmers and various cooperative societies to come together to showcase their products, produces and services.
He said that 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.
He said such development would come from boosting the capacity of the communities 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 has been visionary and pioneering.
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 mechanised agriculture.”
The host Governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson insisted that the only route to achieve prosperity in the country was self-reliance on agriculture instead of total dependence on oil and gas.
Dickson, who was represented by his deputy, Rear Admiral John Jonah (retd.), urged the people to embrace the emergence of agricultural revolution to achieve 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.”