Agriculture is the primary occupation of our people. Before oil was discovered in commercial quantity in 1951, agriculture was the mainstay of the economy of the oil Rivers Protectorate now Rivers State. However, the oil boom in the early 1970’s accelerated the establishment of very many business firms by government in its attempt to invest for the future thereby causing a mass exodus of farm labour for blue collar jobs in the cities. It is the attendant consequences of this neglect on the economy that has necessitated the various efforts of government at reinvigorating the sector with a view to ensuring food security.
Rivers State has a total land mass of about 1,940,000 hectares of which the cultivable area is about 760,00 hectares which is approximately 39% of the land mass of the state. National statistical data shows that Rivers State is one of the leading states in the production of cassava, cocoyam, rice, maize, pineapples, mango, pawpaw, guava,beans, pepper and banana etc .The major tree crops in the state are oil palm and rubber. Others are cocoa, arvengia, citrus and coconut.
The Ministry of Agriculture has the responsibility of promoting farmer friendly agricultural policies with a view to achieving food security, developing the rural economy as well as to ensure conducive environmental security/protection for improved agricultural productivity.
To create conducive macroeconomic climate that stimulates greater private sector investment in agricultural and rural development, rationalizing the roles of the tiers of government, reorganizing the institutional frame work, implementing integrated rural development, increasing budgetary allocation, improving incentives to agriculture and promoting increased application of modern technology to agricultural production.
The mandate of the ministry is as follows:
- Strengthening of all relevant agricultural stakeholders participation/involvement in the state agricultural projects
- Reinvigorate research-extension-farmers linkage in the state
- Intensifying agricultural sensitization/awareness in the state
- Ensuring that Provision of high yield and disease resistant varieties of crops and other planting materials are made available to farmers via the ADP extension officers.
- Assisting farmers to obtain the right type of inputs such as fertilizers and chemicals.
- Organizing seminars and workshops for agriculture teachers and farmers.
- Providing farmers with credit, subsidies and other incentives to boost total output.
- Treatment, control and prevention of animal/livestock disease.
- Promoting scientific management of forest reserves for sustained growth.
- Survey and development of management of scheme for wild life resources in the state.
- Maintenance of an agro-data bank, in collaboration with the Information Technology Department of the Governor’s office.
- Conduct market surveys to determine current prices of agricultural inputs and products.
- Carry out the technical implementation of all agricultural loan schemes.
- Formulation of livestock development, policies, programmes and schemes.
- Policies formulation and implementation for the development of the fisheries sub-sector.
- Provision of professional guidance in decision making in all matters affecting fisheries
- Encouraging fish farming by provision of assistance to fish farmers.
- Mobilization of farmers/fisher-men into production groups and linking co-operatives to financial institutions.
- Pest control services.
- Overseeing the activities of all Agriculture related Parastatals in the State
Our Agricultural policy:
- Carry out GIS mapping to identify the agricultural potentials of the various communities in the State, so that it will be easy to know what type of crop can be encouraged through expansive farming in a particular area.
- Encourage farmers whose lands are contiguous to form co-operatives for expansive farming, so as to attract government support in land preparation, access to tractors, provision of improved seedlings, fingerlings, farm tools, fishing accessories, fertilizer, funds, etc.
- Encourage the participation of indigenes of the State in practical hands-on agriculture schemes through the provision of scholarships and other incentives.
- Enter into collaboration with research institutions to obtain improved seedlings and fingerlings for multiplication in the State.
- Facilitate access to funds by Rivers State indigenes to establish agro-based and agro-allied industries.
- Enter into partnership with private investors to engage in large scale fishing, livestock farming and other farming activities to create jobs and to increase the revenue base of the State