By Chibota Edozie
UNDOUBTEDLY, people of Anambra State, so far, have witnessed unprecedented development in the agricultural sector since the inception of Governor Willie Obiano’s administration. Agriculture is one of the four pillars of Governor Obiano’s economic blue- print. No wonder, special attention is given to the sector virtually at all times since he assumed duty in the state.
It would be recalled that personalities, including politicians, irrespective of political party leanings, have given kudos and commendations to Obiano on agriculture revolution in the state. The former Vice President of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was the first person to praise Obiano for ensuring exportation of some agricultural produce like pumpkin (ugu) leaves and bitter leaves (onugbu) to United States of America and United Kingdom. It is also on record that there are demands for exportation of over one million tubers of yam to the United States of America (USA) from Anambra State.
However, to ensure that the agro sector was revamped, the governor, earlier, had to set up a 14-man committee to look into the sector with the appointment of Chukwuemeka Omaliko as the chairman. The task of the committee was to put together special blue print for the sector. Informed by the seriousness Obiano has for revolutionalising agriculture in the state, he also instituted a Land Acquisition Committee, led by Dr. Tim Menakaya. Acquisition of land has not been an easy task and Menakaya, together with his team, engaged in negotiation with communities to get land for large scale farming.
Obviously, these committees did their work very well and the governor was quite appreciative of the enormous jobs of the members of the committees. One of the recommendations of the committee was precision agriculture. This was to be done through obtaining of data bank for farmers in the state through proper identification of real farmers in the state.
Information also will include active situation room for progress monitoring and evaluation of the farms.
Determined to boost agriculture sector, the governor, also, embarked on massive training for farmers, particularly the female ones. Recently, through the ministry in charge of agriculture in the state, about 30 female farmers were trained on the processing of vitamin A cassava root.
The Governor had the support of federal government through IFAD VCDP. Certainly, more women are to benefit as there will be so many batches. The women are to learn how to use Vitamin A cassava for production of recipes and other by products. The title of the capacity building or training was: ‘Business Opportunity in Vitamin A Cassava for Improved Nutrition and Livelihood’. The training was conducted by Harvest Plus Farm at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.
As a guru in developmental economics and finance, Obiano, knows the importance of private a sector- driven economy and This necessitated the active involvement and cooperation of private agricultural firms in revolutionalising of the sectors in the state. Josan Farms is one of the state government affiliated farms. It produces large metrics tons of rice.
The farm is situated in Enugu Abor, Ufuma, Orumba North Local Government Area, Anambra State. Other private farms that cooperate with the ministry of agriculture in the state are: Coscharis Farms , Novetch Farm, Eckcel Farms, Lynden Farms, MIP Farms and Tricity Integrated Farms.
These farms produce several agricultural products, ranging from rice, tomatoes, yams, pumpkin, bitter leaves and others. ABX Cargo Ltd, in partnership with Bosh, according to the Commissioner of Agriculture, Mr. Afam Mbanefo, facilitates the export of pumkin and bitter leaves (Ugu and onugbu) respectively, to overseas.
Aside training, Obiano’s administration has financially empowered farmers by distribution of over 1.5 billion naira. Small and medium scale farmers benefitted from these grants. The farmers, mostly young people and women, are usually monitored and evaluated to ensure that the money is judiciously used and the goals achieved.
Government also, provides improved seedlings and farming implements to farmers at a profound subsidized cost. These have helped to enhance productivity and the farmers have continued to express gratitude to the governor, Chief Willie Obiano.
The number one citizen of Anambra State has succeeded in making the state highly reputable in the production on of rice. It would be recalled that in 2014, only 80,000 metric tons of rice was produced, but presently, the state can boast of over 320,000 metric tons of rice. The rice, no doubt is one of the best in Africa. The civil servants also enjoy Anambra rice as the governor graciously gives them rice during Christmas periods. Obiano is hopeful that the state will be having 600,000 metrics tons of rice yearly, informed by the new system of all weather farming.
With the acquisition of 5,000 hectares of land and introduction of irrigation system, the vision of 600,000 metrics tons of rice will be realized.
It is worthy to mention that the good road network, particularly in rural areas, embarked upon by Governor Obiano have been very helpful to the agriculture sector as farmers now take their produce to urban centres to sell. This has also helped in the reduction of prices of the agricultural produce. Of course, Anambra farmers have been networked for easy access to markets and sources of support.
This is as a result of the good roads. Roads leading to agrarian communities are being constructed to facilitate accessibility to urban markets. This is a welcome development.
With safe and secured environment, more people are encouraged to go into farming. Anambra state is one of the safest states; a heaven of sort, which attracts investors both local and foreign ones into the state and some engaging in agro allied business and farming and poultry production.
This has assisted immensely in provision of jobs to the people of the state, particularly the youth.
For more success to be recorded in agriculture, ndi Anambra should cooperate with the state government to ensure that the sector becomes number one in revenue generation in the state. This, ultimately, will be the best birthday present to Governor Obiano.
By Chibota Edozie