The youth-friendly Deputy Governor of Cross River, Rt. Hon. Peter Odey, declared open the Cross River State Agricultural Youth Summit on Thursday, 26th October,2023, with the theme: “Back to Land”.
In his opening remarks presented by the Commissioner for Youth Development, Odum-Ijom Ukam Esq, Rt. Hon Odey commended the leadership of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) Cross River State Chapter for their visionary strides in empowering the youth of the state.
Odey, who opined that Cross River State presents a plethora of opportunities within various agricultural value chains, including rice, cassava, fisheries, poultry and palms among others, said the Prince Bassey Otu-led state government is committed to igniting a passionate drive for agricultural innovation and sustainability among the vibrant youth population in the State. The Deputy Governor said the restructuring of the Ministry of Agriculture into two specialized entities – Ministry of Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries Development and the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation Development – was to ensure that every aspect of agriculture receives the requisite investment, attention and expertise for optimal growth and prosperity.
He called on the youths to see the summit as a valuable contribution by NYCN to the steadfast commitment of the State and as a pivotal platform not only for knowledge sharing and fostering innovation, but also for strengthening collaborative efforts in the pursuit of a robust and sustainable agricultural landscape for the future of youths and Cross River State. He encouraged them further to actively participate, engage and contribute as well as draw from the wealth and experiences that the esteemed lineup of speakers and panelists will provide so as to pave the way for a dynamic and progressive agricultural sector in the State.
In his address earlier, the Chairman of the occasion, Mr. Innocent Ogban, called on the youths to go back to land and produce more food for the State and the nation through technology. According to him, “if you embrace technology, your fingers can do wonders for you. We cannot all be governors, senators, ministers or public office holders. However, we can all make use of the abundant resources which are distributed across the State to create wealth”.
The Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Owan Enoh, who was also a guest at the Summit, remarked that the excitement that he felt when he was invited to a gathering by youths to talk about no other thing but agriculture was enormous. He, however, advised that a structure should be adopted for the way forward beyond the talk. He called on youths with the intellectual capacity and knowledge in technology to apply their skills to access capital and loans in order to build a thriving agricultural sector that will create a bridge to connect with those in the villages. He expressed hope that the summit will bring up approaches that will ensure that people in Cross River do not produce food and sell off to those who will process our products and make huge profits while Cross River remains poor.
The event was marked by paper presentations and panel discussions by specialists from diverse agricultural sectors.
Other dignitaries who were present at the occasion included the Commissioner for Agriculture and Irrigation Development, Mr. Johnson Ebokpo, Jr, and representatives of the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Mike Odere, Zenith Bank Plc and AA Universal