The NAOC Green River Project coordinators say they will be investing more in agriculture Niger Delta region of Nigeria by increasing the area of coverage and creating a new Plant Propagation Centre in Delta State
The project is part of the corporate social responsibility of the the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in partnership with Oando, Eni and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
It was the 20th Farmers’ Day Celebration in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State and many farmers that have benefited from the Green River Project gathered to show their appreciation for the support they had received from the project coordinators.
It is an initiative that supports farmers from the different host communities of NAOC by providing them with improved agricultural products and soft loans to advance their agro-businesses.
At the venue of the celebration, it was a gathering of farmers and lovers of agro-business as the Nigerian Agip Oil Company and its partners inspect the different farm produce displayed by the farmers in order to get a scorecard of their investments in the agricultural sector of their host communities drawn for Delta, Imo, Rivers and Bayelsa State.
The theme ‘Sustainable Farming for Sustainability’ is quite apt, as the farmers who are grateful beneficiaries of the benevolence of NAOC under their Green River Project have gotten, improved seeds, plantain suckers, tractors, hoes and even money to ensure that they succeed in their individual businesses.
The Vice Chairman and Managing Director of the NAOC Green River Project (GRP), Massimo Insulla, while cheering on the beneficiaries of the project who have in the past year improved on the quality of their produce announced the preparedness of the company to still invest more in the agricultural sector of their host states.
“As we take stock today of the achievements of this initiative and its contribution to the empowerment of benefiting farmers and their families, we are encouraged to invest more and more in the states. In other to make the benchmark of many of such initiatives, this year, we have increased the area of coverage of the Green River Project by creating a new plant propagation centre in Kwale, Delta State.
“We have begun rehabilitation of an existing complex of about eight hectares in Bayelsa State,” he told the gathering.
The District General Manager of the Green River Project, Marco Rotondi, said that the company’s intervention was focused on women, the youths, children who are still in secondary school by teaching them the importance of farming and to encourage the farmers to form cooperatives societies in order to benefit from the loan issued by the NAOC.
He also listed other services offered by the NAOC Green River Project to advance agriculture in the Niger Delta.
“We are very proud of the following services that our project offers. First is the provision of improved seeds and agricultural and agro-allied materials, agricultural extension services and skill acquisitions programme and micro-credit scheme aimed at delivering entrepreneurial training”.
The Honourable Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, commended the NAOC for the initiative.
He said that the project was worth emulating.
In his speech, he told the gathering that the Federal Government was repositioning the Bank of Agriculture and had also created the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for agricultural lending to enable farmers access more affordable credit facilities.
“It must be noted that despite the huge oil and gas deposit, the Niger Delta region is blessed with one of the world’s largest wetlands with arable lands for agriculture and has the capacity to become a domestic and international provider of agricultural produce,” Senator Lokpobiri stated.
He also appealed to Niger Delta residents to embrace peace and focus on agriculture for sustainable economic development and wealth creation.
Aside the speeches of commendation the dignitaries visited the farmers village which was constructed by the farmers to display their wares and one after the other the farmers expressed their gratitude to the NAOC while explaining how the Green River Project had impacted their lives.