The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has decried the level of poverty in the villages, saying the development is unacceptable to the All Progressives Congress-led federal government.
The minister stated this yesterday during a courtesy visit to the management of Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily Trust titles in Abuja.
“The element which creates pains for us is the plight of our people in the villages. The level of poverty in the villages is simply unacceptable-we all came from there”, Mr. Ogbeh lamented.
He said the lack of development in the rural areas could be traced to the collapse of the local government system, noting that the state-local government joint account system made a mess of the whole issue.
“Nothing is going on down there [in the rural areas]”, Ogbeh stressed.
He said the ministry is coming up with a programme called Labour Intensive Family Enterprise (LIFE) where processing equipment for groundnuts, soya beans, palm kernel, rice, Shea butter and others will be set up in the villages to actively and massively engage the rural dwellers in order to create wealth, arrest rural-urban drift and reduce poverty.
“We are taking life back to villages. We want the villages to be part of the all-inclusive growth agenda”, Ogbeh said.
While articulating some of the programmes the ministry plans to execute to resuscitate the country’s agricultural sector, the minister said plans are under way to return the three universities of agriculture, which hitherto have been in the ministry of education, back to ministry of agriculture.
The three federal Universities of Agriculture are: Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike in Abia State, the Federa University of Agriculture, Abeokuta in Ogun State and the University of Agriculture, Makurdi in Benue State.
According to Ogbeh, the law establishing the institutions does not even empower the National University Commission, NUC, to supervise them in the first place.
Other areas the minister said will be developed include the livestock development programme, where over 200 centres will be developed across the country to actualize the school feeding programme, where a pine of milk will be given to 30 million school children daily.