The dean of Post Graduate Studies, Federal University Otuoke in Bayelsa State, Professor Benjamin Okaba, has called on the people of Ijaw nationality and the Niger Delta at large not to panic over the recent alleged diversion of food items meant for the region to neigbouring countries by Northern traders.
Okaba made the call while reacting to the recent development believed to be connected to the clashes between some Yoruba and Northern traders which led to one death and several buildings burnt down at the Shasha market in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The university don however called on the Ijaws to learn from the incident, noting that the South-South, like every part of the country, is blessed and also has the potentials to feed its people.
He said Israel as a nation found itself in a similar position but went into extensive farming to change the narrative.
“In terms of food security, every part of Nigeria has comparative advantage in certain goods, food and cash crop. So what I think we need is the mind set to transform our natural resources in modern agriculture, for you to grow anything.
“When the Arab nation placed an embargo on food supply to Israel in the early 1950s, that prompted them to come up with an agricultural policy. As we speak, Israel is the highest food producing country in that part of the world. The enormous wealth they accumulate from supplying food to their neighbours make agriculture their major source of income.
“So when we say necessity is the mother of invention, is to necessarily say that when you are faced with a situation like this, you take it as a decent challenge and think of what you can do”, he said.
Prof. Okaba said that recent studies show that Ijaws are the highest producers of plantain, banana and other crops like rice, yam, cassava, potato, beans and red pepper among others
“The largest plantain and banana markets in Africa are found in Bayelsa State, the Zarama market. Ijaws have the highest number of rivers and waterways in Africa. The world fish report of 1995 identified over 250 fish species in our river. We also discovered that beans, rice, potato, yam, cassava grow very well in our region.
“If you go to Sampou and Ayamasa communities, we have this Owiburu. So as we speak, trailer loads of Owiburu are taken out of these two communities and other surrounding communities to neigbouring communities. The red pepper for instance is the most pepperish specie of pepper and its found in Ijaw land”, he noted.