The Rivers State Government spends about N7billion annually on the governor’s special overseas scholarship scheme.
The Executive Director of Rivers State sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA), Mr Noble Pepple who disclosed this while addressing Deans of Faculties of Agriculture of Nigerian universities at the Rivers State Songhai farm at Bunu Tai said that 300 students were sponsored every year in various universities across the world to undertake courses in Medicine, Engineering, Natural Sciences, Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) amongst others.
Mr Pepple said that the agency also set up a special scheme to accommodate physically-challenged people, while the greater horizon opportunities evolved by the agency caters for talented children from economically disadvantages homes in the state.
The agency, he noted , had also set up the workman technical training centre (WTTC) at Bori to train artisans and technicians in the state.
Pepple who later conducted the deans round the farm, explained that the Rivers Songhai farm which is fashioned after the international Songhai farm at Porto Novo, Benin Republic, was meant to ensure food security in the state, stimulate sustainable livelihood and also ensure rural growth and macro economic development.
According to him, to ensure the realisation of these objectives, regional farms are being established across the state. The chairman, Association of Deans of Agriculture of Nigerian Universities, Prof Shehu A. Rahman described the Rivers State Songhai project as a mechanism that could help to fight poverty, food security and unemployment not only in Rivers State, but the entire country.
Prof Rahman who is the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration, Nasarawa State University, Keffi further noted that the effective utilisation of the farm would help farmers across the country to improve their produce.
Also speaking, the Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Prof Boma M Oruwari said that the project would stimulate interest in agricultural studies.
Prof Oruwari also commended the Rivers State Government for giving attention to agricultural development.
The deans were in the state for their 2012 annual general meeting.