The Delta Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr Julius Egbedu, yesterday said the ministry is proposing N2 billion for the development of the agricultural sector in the 2021 fiscal year.
The commissioner said this during the annual budget defence the ministry with the State House of Assembly Committee on Agriculture in Asaba.
Egbedi said that out of the figure, the ministry was proposing 300 million for the development of cassava programme in the state.
He said that the ministry was also proposing N205 million for the development of livestock in the state, adding that poultry development was put at N100 million, piggery – N90 million, while small non-ruminant is N15 million.
“We are also proposing the sum of N100 million to promote value chain development with emphasis on the processing of palm oil farmers, adding that a total of 1400 direct and indirect job would be created through the programme,’’ he said.
Egbedi said that maize production programme was not left out as the ministry was proposing N80 million for the cultivation of maize, saying that the ministry was partnering with Maize Association of Nigeria to secure land to boost maize production in the state.
”This project when implemented will help to provide 150 direct and indirect jobs in the state,” he said.
The commissioner also told the committee that opening of lands for farming had been a major challenge to farmers and agricultural business entrepreneurs across the state because of the huge financial involvement.
”This programme will help to open up primary and secondary forests for our farmers across the state on loan which will be paid back within a period of four years and the essence of this loan is to cushion the effects of the financial involvement on the part of our farmers.
”We are proposing the sum of N93 million which will be used to open up 350 hectares of land for this programme,” he said.
Egbedi said that aquaculture was one of the areas in agriculture which had yielded good result, especially in the area of job creation for the teeming youths
“To further encourage young fish entrepreneurs in the state, we are proposing the sum of N200 million to expand the programme in the 2021 budget,’’ he said.
Egbedi told the committee that the state government had given approval for the state to participate in the Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme (AADS).
AADS is a special project for the empowerment of youths within the ages of 18 and 35 in cluster farms not less than 100 hectares under the CBN loan programme.
” A total of 750 youths have been profiled for the vegetable cluster which will utilise the Green House Technology and more than 500 youths have been profiled for the fisheries clusters,” he said.
Egbedi, while commending the committee for giving the ministry the privilege to defend its 2021 budget, appealed for an upward review of the budget to accommodate gender specific projects such as the Rural Women for Sustainable Agriculture.
Responding, the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Austin’s Chikezie commended the commissioner and the ministry for good budget presentation, noting that the request of the ministry would be looked into.