Today’s event is a significant milestone in this administration’s quest to develop the agricultural sector in line with our stated objectives of economic diversification, food security, self-reliance and prosperity for all.
In the nine months that we have been in office, we have invested substantial resources, personnel, time and energy to stimulate agricultural production through the Production and Processing Support Programme (PPSP). As you may be aware, the PPSP is an agricultural value chain support programme designed to upscale the use of modern inputs and technologies and increase outputs and productivity of crop, livestock and fishery enterprises. This is in consonance with our electoral promise to reform the agricultural sector for the purposes of wealth creation, boosting employment, achieving value addition and sustainable economic growth.
There are clear indications of bountiful harvest from the agricultural sector occasioned by the timely and efficient distribution of farm inputs - seedlings, production technologies and materials – under the PPSP to farmers across the State. However, we must do much more than boost the yields from the agricultural sector. Without value chain development, we would not have achieved anything significantly different from previous interventions in the agricultural sector.
Aside from poor technology and insufficient funding, poor extension and disjointed value chains constitute major disincentive to farmers. It is a fact that farmers have been known to sell their produce at giveaway prices simply because of the absence of storage facilities and lack of marketing outlets for the distribution and sale of their products.
As long as our farmers don’t have ready markets for their produce and at the right price, they will remain in perpetual poverty even if their yields triple or quadruple. In addition, they will not see the value in embracing government policies targeted at higher productivity in the face of low returns on investment. Worse still, farming will remain unattractive to would-be farmers and investors.
The Agricultural Marketing Coordination Committee that is being inaugurated today is designed to tackle the marketing challenges faced by farmers in Delta State. The work of this Committee should help our farmers worry less about finding suitable markets for their produce, while ensuring that they prosper from the work of their hands, thereby make farming attractive once again.
In the light of the foregoing, the terms of reference of the Agricultural Marketing Coordination Committee are as follows:
- Identify existing and potential markets for agricultural produce and devise measures and arrangements for farmers to access those markets;
- Obtain and disseminate market information to agricultural producers and thereby improve information flow between farmers (sellers) and processors (buyers);
- Proffer measures for establishing and improving market infrastructure and facilities such as warehouses, cold storage, output aggregation and processing centres etc;
- Identify and coordinate measures for facilitating the links between production clusters/farmers and off-takers within and outside the State;
- Identify and coordinate actionable measures to encourage market-oriented production by farmers;
- Organise and facilitate capacity building for market intermediaries and brokerage along the commodity marketing channels; and
- Collaborate with national and international agencies in fostering linkages between farmers and markets.
I pray for God’s wisdom and guidance for all of you in this all- important assignment.
- Speech at the inauguration of Agricultural Marketing Coordination Committee at the EXCO Chambers, New Government House, Asaba.