As part of concerted measures to achieve food security and self-sufficiency, Bayelsa State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Chief David Alagoa has hinted on plans by his ministry to encourage households across the state to engage in “home farming” with emphasis on vertical farming methods, reiterating that home farming can take care of household food supplies.
Speaking as special guest of honour at the opening ceremony of a 2-day seminar on Agriculture and Food Security, organised by the Re-Branding Committee of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) Bayelsa State, in collaboration with Upgrade Liftings International Consulting firm for Christian leaders, with the theme: “Empowering the Christian Leader” at Kingdom Grace Mission International Church, Oxbow Lake Swali-Yenagoa on Thursday, Hon. Alagoa advised households not to throw away seedlings after consumption.
He maintained that Bayelsa state has the most fertile soil where all types of food crops grow easily, informing that his office will collaborate with PFN to semsitise and mobilize households to go into sustainable agricultural practices as part of efforts to mainstream agriculture to achieve food security and self-sufficiency in food production.
Adviser to the governor on Religious Matters, Rev. Godspower Asingba, who was special guest of honour at the seminar on the second day, commended the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria in the state for organising the agricultural training seminar, just as he enjoined Christian leaders to explore the various agricultural initiatives of the prosperity administration to archive self-sufficiency in food production.
Rev. Asingba reiterated the urgent need for pastors to go into farming as a way of empowering themselves and their church members economically, adding that the Senator Douye Diri-led government is favourably disposed to collaboration with the Christian community to alleviate poverty through sustainable agriculture.
Earlier in his opening remarks, chairman of Bayelsa State Ecumenical Board, Pastor Dortimi Amatare encouraged Christian leaders to venture into agriculture to meet their daily household food supplies, reiterating that the Bayelsa soil has natural fertiliser as a result of the annual perennial flooding which has become a blessing in making the soil very fertile for farming all year round.
Quoting from Ecclessiatics chapter 9:10, he enjoined Christian leaders to be dedicated to their calling, saying that many of the fathers of faith in the Bible were big time farmers who were rich in livestock and all sorts of food crops, just as he commended the PFN Re-Branding Committee for the organising the seminar.
Mrs Jane Alerk, a security expert and a leading female minister of the gospel in her closing remark, admonished pastors to be liberal in giving to God and human beings in order to attract the manifold blessings from God, adding that farming can open doors for households, citing the example of what she saw when she visited South Korea where every household was engaged home farming is practices.
While commending the initiative of the PFN rebramding committee to have organised the seminar, General Superintendent of Redeemed Glory Church, Pst Tam Seth Eyedoude, promised to provide startup funds for five persons who are willing set up snailries.
Secretary of the PFN Re-Branding Committee, Rev Tamuno Chesime, noted that the seminar was part of the rebramding task of the committee, just as he assured of more human capacity building and empowerment programmes for pastors in the state, saying that sustainable agricultural practices will lead to self-sufficiency in food production and food security.
Chief host and chairman of PFN Re-Branding Committee, Apostle Timiebi Gaius Kiyaramo explained that the seminar was put together by his committee in collaboration with Upgrade & Liftings International consulting firm for Christian leaders as was part of efforts to sensitise the church on the urgent need to engage in agriculture.
Apostle Kiyaramo stressed that as responsible Christian leaders, it was time come together and take advantage of the ongoing sustainable agricultural initiatives of the prosperity administration of Senator Douye Diri by simply keying into the agricultural drive which has several opportunities beckoning on church leaders and members to become more productive.
“I like to use this occasion to commend the various agricultural development initiatives of the present administration, particularly the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a European fishing consortium, African Atlantic Gulf of Guinea Fisheries (AAGGF).
“As Christian leaders we should engage in the passion for a renewal of rural life through the intersection of agriculture, ecology, and faith. One pragmatic way the Senator Douye Diri administration can achieve the goal of reviving the state’s economy is to partner with religious institutions in executing its agricultural development agenda.
“Let us come together to create a Food Security Network of Churches under the PFN platform to compliment the food security agenda of the present administration. Christian leaders should explore agriculture as a means of renewing the church and our mission is to make agrarian disciples of Jesus Christ who will serve rural communities.
“If the government leverages on the strength and wide followership of churches under the purview of PFN, as a reliable channel to mobilize their members across the state to engage in agriculture, with the understanding that churches are closer to the people than the local government authorities, christened as ‘grassroots’ government.
“Such partnership could result in stronger community associations, better economic development, and stronger church-community-relationships, just as more persons would join the churches as a result of their involvement with the community.
“It is a proven that using local expertise in agriculture can help to create a stable society and at the same time, empower the people to effectively participate in their own community development activities.
“The state government through the ministry of agriculture and natural resources can easily build many agro-based economic champions by deploying the critical poise of these churches in its bid to diversify the state’s economy through agriculture.
“It is unfortunate that both farmers and Christian faithful are now looking around, wondering what happened to their farms. The church loses its voice, its people, and its identity, because church members who were farmers, being blessed by the pastors for good harvest are now losing their livelihood and identity as people who owned farmlands in the neighbourhood.
“It has become obvious that agriculture and the church are in need of a new vision of their life together. If agriculture and religion are infected by same virus of rural urban migration or so called civilization, perhaps, they should join together to find a path to renewed health. Young people should rather reject desk jobs in favor of sustainable agriculture.
It is regretbale that while churches remain the most organised groups with effective leadership and followership, the sacred and secular divide, has kept the church away from other aspects of transformations.
In his exaltation, lead consultant and co-organiser of the agriculture seminar, Rev. Ebi Emarah who stressed the need for pastors to advantage of the opportunities available to them to invest in agriculture, disclosed that the Bank of Industry and the World Bank were ready to provide grants and single digit loans for farmers in the state.
He regretted that while Bayelsa state remains the snail hub in Nigeria, the people are yet to key into the international snail market, promising that he would be available to collaborate with the PFN platform to empower willing persons to explore the various opportunities in agric business.
The highpoint of the seminar was the practical training sessions in snailry, fish farming plantain, cassava, poultry, handled Mr Emmanuel Jerome and Rev. Ebi Emarah.
Recall that a well-developed home farming contributes significantly to daily food needs. It can supply hpeople eholds with nearly all the non-staple foods they need, such as fruit, vegetables, legumes, coconuts and root crops as well as spices, tea, coffee, medicines and flowers for ornamental purposes or for sale.