The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh says interested officers of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) who are interested in going into agriculture to ensure food security in the country will be trained.
Ogbeh said this at a sensitisation workshop organised for officers of NAF on the benefits of the new Agricultural Policy in Abuja on Wednesday.
Ogbeh, was represented by Mr Muyiwa Azeez, the Director, Agribusiness, Processing and Marketing in the ministry.
The minister said the training and support would be aimed at getting everybody including military officers into agriculture in line with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
The minister said the move was also to boost food security and reduce importation.
“We want you to come into agriculture production, processing, storage, marketing, research and bio-fuel development.
“We will train you on tractor hiring to be agriprenurs. You can go into livestock production and we are ready to support you with the necessary things needed to set up the business.
“We want to empower both serving and retiring officers, ‘’Ogbeh said.
Air Vice-Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, the Chief of Air Staff, said the workshop was a welcome development. Abubakar, represented by AVM Lawal Alao, the Chief of Administration, NAF Headquarters, said the information would further enlighten the officers.
He said the knowledge gathered from the workshop would be expanded to various commands of the force.
Abubakar said the force had introduced a programme known as `Barrack Youth Empowerment through Agriculture’ to expose families of officers to agriculture using the available lands within the air force environment. He said the agricultural initiative of the Federal Government would add value to what the Air Force had started.
The Chief of Air Staff said the sensitisation, which involved some of directors, officers and men of the command, would bring to fore the opportunities abound in agriculture.
“This initiative could not have come at a better time.
“We are all aware that the Federal Government is trying to diversify the economy from petroleum to other sectors of the economy and predominantly, focusing on agriculture.
“The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had set up programmes to sensitise ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) on opportunities therein for civil servant to engage in agriculture.
“Their coming here to sensitise the leadership of the Air force including directors, officers and men on the opportunities abound on agricultural is welcomed.
“We have been exposed to the opportunities that are bound in terms of agricultural processing, marketing and warehousing,’’ he said.
Mrs Winifred Ochinyabo, the Senior Adviser to the Minister on Special Projects and General Duties, reiterated that the strength of a country lied in its ability to feed itself.
According to her, food security is an integral part of national security, hence the need to involve security personnel in the quest to achieve food security.
“We want to give our service men an opportunity in agriculture and we will stand by you. We want to step up the para-military body to become agro-rangers.
“This body will be trained by the armed forces to protect agricultural investments.’’
She, however, commended the support and encouragement of the chief of air staff toward the sensitisation and promoting food production in the country.