December 30
07:44 2020

JEDY-AGBA, GODWIN, oil and gas expert, administrator, politician, BSc, MSc. Born August 20, 1958 in Obudu. Married Beatrice, 6 children. Education: University of Lagos, 1989; Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 1983; Mary Knoll College, Okuku. Career: Administrative Officer, Ministry of Federal Capital Territory, 1984; Personal Assistant to Ministers for Federal Capital Territory, Foreign Affairs, and Petroleum Resources respectively; Head Market Research, Crude Oil Marketing

Division, NNPC, 1993; Group General Manager, NNPC, 2009-2015; private business, 2015 till date. Major contribution to the development of the society: he is said to be the Cross Riverian with the highest employees outside of government. Jedy-Agba has contributed immensely to the development of mankind. He is a humanitarian that knows no religion, ethic group, and or political inclination. He is the operator and sole financier of the Jedy Agba Foundation (JAF). The foundation has paid and is still paying scholarship to so many students across Nigeria, many of which are Cross Riverians. The JAF has also paid medical expenses for sick people in Nigeria, and at so many occassions taken the burden to treat serious medical cases abroad. Goddy Jedy Agba as a farm entrepreneur has also given start up capital to people to start up their businesses, especially, young people willing to engage in farming. While in the NPPC, Jedy has empowered young Nigerians and Cross Riverians in particular to be shortlisted for employment in the Corporation. Jedy has also trained pilots who are now working in various arms of the aviation industry. Recognitions/Awards/Honours: Officer of the Federal Republic awarded to him by the President of Nigeria.

I started working as a civil servant after graduating from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in Kaduna State. My career in the civil service saw me retire as the Group Managing Director, Crude Oil Marketing in NNPC.

Long before my retirement, I have seen the abundant opportunities presented to us through agriculture. It is on record that before the discovery of crude oil, agriculture was the foreign exchange earner for Nigeria. At that time, Nigeria was food sufficient and self reliant. There was a higher standard of food security, and our efforts were being channeled to agricultural value chain management.

Until the discovery of oil in mid 1959, Nigeria was buoyant and proud. Proud in that we took pleasure in establishing food reserves across the country. All these gave way to the days of oil boom. The days of “hard labour pays was replaced with less work and so much money.” We began to pay less attention to agriculture and as time went by, we depended on foreign countries to give us basic necessities of life, including garri, beans, and groundnut, and common potatoes.

As a young man growing up into adulthood, I had always wanted to own a farm. I had always wanted to produce what I eat in my house. And so, in 2006, I started the Godilogo farm in Obudu. The Godilogo Farm produces Godilogo rice, Godilogo Garri, Obudu Honey Delight, Godilogo Fufu, Godilogo yam flour, and Godilogo yogurt. Everything produced at Godilogo farm is in commercial quantity. Our farm operations is expanding into new ventures. We are going into the commercial farming of Moringa, poultry products, and other livestocks.

I have come to understand that my childhood dream of owning a farm has rather opened up new opportunity, freedom, and financial independence, and partnership vistas with world agribusiness entrepreneurs around the world. There is so much wealth in agriculture. Agriculture is creating wealth for both government and private individuals. In 1979, government spurred the nation to return back to land through the operation feed the nation.

Between 1979-1981, Nigeria earned over 500 Million Dollars from exporting food and agricultural raw materials to the outside world. Government interest in agribusiness should encourage us as individuals to also help create employment opportunities for family members.

The opportunities offered by agriculture has not been adequately explored yet. Have you ever imagined that Nigeria spends over 140 Billion Naira importing only rice? Imagine that you’re a commercial rice farmer empowered by government through the CBN rice anchor programme. Surely, you will be part of those who will be harvesting from the 140 Billion Naira kept aside by government for rice growers. Apart from selling to government, rice is now a staple food in Nigeria and its demand is increasingly growing. No matter how food sufficient Nigeria will be in future, export for rice, maize, sugar cane, guinea corn, millet, sorghum, bush mango, cocoa, groundnut, yam, garri, etc, will remain high around the world.

Apart from the cultivation and sales of agricultural produce, more and more people are going into agricultural value chain addition and management. Many local cooperatives are converting raw agricultural produce into finished goods before selling.

According to a report of Africa’s Development Bank, “farmers in the continent will rake in about 1 trillion dollars by 2030.” My idea is not that local farmers should target 1 trillion dollars as predicted by the African Development Bank. My idea is that no matter how small, every family in Nigeria must try to own a farm. Farms are a source of income and this helps to control the level of poverty in the society and food security.

A country like Nigeria with fertile lands everywhere cannot be said to be importing garri rather than exporting same. I feel discouraged seeing Ghana pepper, Cameroon pepper, Thai rice, or even inviting foreigners to come and farm on our lands while we work as farm labourers. It is quite sad that our young people are clustering city centres, jumping from one politician to the next begging for survival rather than taking up opportunities in agribusiness.

It should be known too that the political landscape have shifted from one of absolute power and ghana-must-go politics, to one of empowerment of citizenry and service delivery to the electorates. Youths therefore, should take the opportunities to return back to the land for survival. Rather than depend on politicians giving them peanuts to buy their loyalty.

Agriculture creates lots of wealth for individuals and families. In Jigawa State and Kebbi State for instance, civil servants are benefiting from the one hectare per person project. According to CBN Report released recently, more than 67.6% of farmers have added more than 300 thousand naira to their income. More than 55.3% of them, have applied for additional hectares to farm on as the rainy seasons approaches. This showed a cumulative growth in family income more than it was predicted by the CBN.

In Lagos, more than 15% of families in Badagry LGA and Ekpe LGA have been lifted out of poverty through the CBN/FG Rice Anchor Borrowers Intervention Programme. A BBC London report on food security in Nigeria, commended the efforts of Lagos State and Kebbi State Government in the establishment of commercial rice farming and the signing of agreements that constructed the 20 tonnes per/hour rice mill in Lagos. According to the report, the mill has employed more than 6000 unemployed youths and taken about 35.3% of unemployed youths off the streets in these LGAs.

In Kaduna and Bauchi State, the production of tomatoes and groundnut has increased the household income. More than 21% of farmers from these States are harvesting bountifully while also increasing their incomes.

In Cross River State, the few instances stated above is not true. The Cross River State government has rather focused more on attracting foreign corporations in rice farms development rather than empowering true local farmers for more than two years now, the government is held between the implementation of its MoU in the establishment of a rice city in Calabar by foreigners from Thailand, and to rescind on same MoU as to empower local farmers.

It is my opinion that the establishment of the rice city in the city of Calabar, is actually misplaced.

More than ever, the government of Cross River State should have been aware by now that food and raw materials moves from the villages to the cities world over. And value added finished goods moves from the city to the village. It would have made more sense if government had relocated rice cities from the cities to the villages. Believe me, there are many petty farmers in the villages in Cross River State than there are factories. Taking rice cities to the villages will create more empowerment for farmers. This will create the enabling environment that will create raw materials for the cityscape industrialization drive.

It is sad that even when CBN has released Billions of Naira to Cross River State, true farmers who should have benefitted from such interventions were sub changed with political appointees of the government. Government has not encouraged domestic farmers to grow through agriculture. If anything, government signed an MoU with Mexico to produce pepper, pineapple, banana, plantain, and barely everything that Cross Riverians should have been encouraged to produce. Rather than pushing our poor farmers out of their poverty, government is grabbing lands illegally and pushing locals out of their landed properties, sometimes destroying cash crops without compensation. Rather than encourage local production of agricultural produce, our government is destroying people’s livelihood.

These has pushed Cross Riverian youths to the cities and has turned them into beggars from one political office holder to the next.

If these policy patterns continues, Cross River State will be thrown into a poverty cycle that has never been experienced before. It is my advice to government to change its policy direction and embrace more people’s oriented policies. The ministry of agriculture should be proactive and youth friendly. Its commissioners should be willing to introduce, mentor, train, and monitor their skills development. While also providing grants and loans for them to experiment and practice as young farmers. Agricbusiness is huge wealth pool waiting to be tapped.

Being a farmer myself, and one who retired from the oil and gas industry, I can testify of financial independence in agriculture than in the oil sector. if properly harnessed, Cross River State will be food sufficient, secured, and wealthy in the next 30 years.

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December 2020