The Minister of State Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Heineken Lokpobiri has inaugurated the boards of 23 agencies and parastatals under the Ministry.
The inaugurated boards include those of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN); National Cereals Research Institute, Badeggi; Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC); National Root Crops Research Institute; Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria among others.
At the inauguration in Abuja, Lokpobiri noted that Nigeria’s annual food imports including rice and fish had been on a steady decline, stressing that government’s agricultural programmes were already yielding positive results and all food imports would be further reduced.
Noting that the country had made significant progress in growing the sector, Lokpobiri observed that more work needed to be done.
“Efforts on developing other agricultural products like cassava, millet, cocoa, hibiscus flower (zobo), ginger, cashew nuts and so on, are yielding positive results,” he said.
He identified the ministry’s responsibilities as developing agriculture, ensuring rural development through the transformation of rural economy, attaining food security, creating jobs as well as making the country a net exporter of agricultural produce and foreign exchange earner.
“Our agricultural research institutions and colleges have a vital role to play in achieving this goal as they have a mandate to ensure the development of new technologies, inputs, production techniques, storage and distribution techniques and processes through research for improved yield and reduction in losses. Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation also plays a major role in protecting farmers from agricultural losses in the entire value chain,” he stated.
He called on the chairmen and members of the boards to embrace selfless service and team work.
Chairman of the board of Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Mr Adetunji Ajagbe, who spoke on behalf of others, promised that the boards would fulfill the mandate given to them.