By Sam Esogwa
A lecturer in the department of Agriculture & Applied Economics, Rivers State University, Okidim Andrew (PhD), has called on churches in Rivers State to help reduce the high rate of unemployment and under development in the state by investing in agriculture.
In a chat with BusinessDay today in Port Harcourt, Dr Okidim Andrew said investment in agriculture has the capacity to create a lot of jobs for youths in the state, noting that the churches have the resources to explore the sector by bringing their resources together and investing in it.
He said the church has both spiritual and social responsibilities to the masses, saying that was how the early missionaries tackled their mission work. He said the churches can pool their resources together and do business for the betterment of members. “When members are employed they serve God better. So they can do that. They have the resources, they have the land, they have the connection, they have everything; they have the expertise.
“Most of us are in churches. I’m an Assemblies of God member. If they need the expertise, we’re there. So, the churches have everything; they have the money; they have the expertise; they have the resources. The problem is that they have not been able to pool their resources together. If they can pool their resources together, we’ll better this nation,” he explained.
On the issue of lack of facilities for preservation of agricultural products, he said canning can help out in the waste of tomatoes. He said the churches can afford to build canning centres for fruits. “The agric sector is doing very well in terms of these things. If they bring the resources, we can provide them with solutions. We can actually provide solution against perishability.”
On how the government can come in to support farmers, the agric expert said: “The reason why the agric sector is like this is because you don’t play politics with agriculture. To mention government, you’re actually playing politics with agriculture. The owner of Songhai Farm in Port Novo used to say one thing: that anything government touches, it dies. So, government can only provide the enabling environment and allow the private sector to thrive to drive the sector. Government can’t own farms.”