The ministry was created alongside other ministries within the state service structure shortly after the state was created out of the old Rivers State in 1996.It has had over six commissioners under different administrations since it was established.
The state has, since the ministry was created, evolved a strategy to lift its agricultural sector from the rudimentary stage to a commercial driven sector with structures that will ensure community participation and global best practices on the identified agro projects. There are four (4) key companies under the newly constituted Bayelsa State Agricultural Development Company Ltd, namely, Bayelsa Farms Ltd; Bayelsa Palm Ltd; Creek Foods & Supplies and the Niger-Delta Sea Food Ltd. Add to this number are the Shrimp Culture Project, National Food Security Programme, Community based National Resources Management Programme, Roots and Tuber Expansion Project, Green House Vegetable Project, Agriculture Extension Scheme in collaboration with the Bio-resources Development Centre, Odi and Rural Access and Mobility Project(RAMP) in collaboration with the World Bank.
Status of The Ministry
The status of the ministry includes: the integrated divisional farm centres in the eight (8) Local Government Areas of the State; The N1b; Shrimp Culture Project; National Food Security Programme through the ADP; Roots and Tuber Expansion Project; Green House Vegetable Project; AGRIC Extension Scheme in collaboration with the Bio-resource Development Centre in Odi; Community Based National Resource Management Programme and Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP) in collaboration with the World Bank; Young school leavers programme (School –to –Land);National FADAMA 111 programme and Agricultural Development programme –Extension. These major projects are to be complemented with cottage industries which are to be operated through community participation under our SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL FARM SETTLEMENT PROGRAMME (SAFSP). SAFSP is targeted at cooperative farmers in the rural communities of the eight (8) LGAs of Bayelsa State. This farmer settlement programme is similar to the highly successful Kibutz system in Israel. This has significant impact on the small holder farmers, hence a need to adopt this in Bayelsa State.
Dr Thomas Commander, Hon Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Bayelsa State was born 48 years ago at Anyama Ijaw (Tarakiri Clan) Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. He attended St Paul's State School for his elementary education between 1971 and 1976 where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate. In 1978, encouraged by his excellent result, the young Commander proceeded to the famous Government Secondary School Agudama Ekpetiama for his secondary education between 1978 and 1983 where he obtained his West Africa School Certificate with distinction.
Shortly on graduation from Secondary School, he was admitted to the legendary Rivers State University of Science & Technology, Port-Harcourt to study Applied Biology, majoring on Zoology. He graduated with first class BSc (Hon) Applied Biology. In 1995, he obtained his MSc Zoology from the University of Port-Harcourt and in 2004 he completed his PhD on Applied Entomology from the Rivers State University of Science &Technology, Port-Harcourt.
He had his postgraduate studies from the University of Ghana, Legion in Accra in 1994. Intelligent and brilliant, he was sported as gifted. So Dr Commander received most of his education under scholarship. He received a scholarship award from the former Rivers State government for his post Primary School. Also between 1992 and 1993 he received yet another scholarship from the same Rivers State Government for his MSc. In 2001 he received another for his PG, this time from the Federal Government.
Dr Commander has years of experience as a University teacher, beginning as a part-time lecturer in 1992 with the College of Continuing Education-University of Port Harcourt. After a short stint with the college, he left to join the Rivers State Primary Schools Board, Port Harcourt where he rose to the rank of Master Grade 1, between 1989 and 1995 and later lecturer with the Rivers State College of Education between 1995 and 2006.
In 2007 he was appointed Lecturer1 in the Department of Biological Sciences of the Niger-Delta University (NDU), Wilberforce Island, Amassoma Bayelsa State, a position he held until he was appointed as a commissioner, Bayelsa State ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
However, prior to his appointment as the Hon Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr Commander served in various capacities: namely, a pioneer member of the Board of the Federal Technology Business Incubation Centres of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Abuja. Between 2007 and 2011 he served as a Special Adviser on Legislative Matters to the Rt. Hon Speaker, Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Yenagoa. And in 2011, he was non-Executive Director of the Board of the Bayelsa Farms Limited and chairman Advisory Council, Yenagoa Technology Incubation Centre (Under FMST, Abuja).
On the socio-political circle, Dr Commander has held several positions of relevant: President Old Students Association of Agudama Comprehensive High School in 2008; Deputy Senior Prefect Agudama Comprehensive High School, Agudama-Ekpetima between 1981 and 1983 and chairman, Tarakiri Clan Consultative Forum (TCF) between 2000 and 2001. In 1989 and 1994 he was elected President, Anyama Progressive Youths Association. Between 1990and 1994 elected chairman Anyama Community Development Committee, member, Mamser Consultative Committee in SILGA in 1993 and Trustee, Youth Federation for National Peace(YFNP). He is the Founder/National Coordinator, Movement for the Survival of Democracy. He is a member of various professional bodies namely; Nigerian Environmental Society (NES); member, Entomological Society of Nigeria (ESN), Plant Protection Society of Nigeria. Dr Commander has written many publications and co authored other major academic publications.
- Contract for the training of 50 rice farmers awarded to the National Cereals Research Institute at Bedeggi, Niger State.
- Quality control training of fourteen (14) experts to drive commercial poultry initiative in South Africa
- Clearing of commercial Banana/Plantain Project at Ofoni and commencement of Aquaculture fish farm at Angalabiri all in Sagbama Local Government Area
- Establishment of Songhai type integrated farm at Abobiri in Ogbia Local government Area.