With the beginning of new farming season in Anambra State, National Light reporters, CHIKAODI CHUKWULETA and BLESSING NNABUIFE appraise the outcome of previous seasons in the state and its impact on homes and orgnisations, including Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation (ANPC) where the cottage farming initiative of Gov. Willie Obiano was a major project embarked upon by workers. They interviewed the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, ANPC, Sir Chuka Nnabuife and a reporter in the corporation, Charity Uzoagba. Excerpts:
There’s joy in feeding of your produce – Nnabuife
RECENTLY, the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano approved cottage farming in different offices what is your take on this?
It is not only in offices that he encouraged Ndi Anambra to farm, he encouraged them to farm in their homes. The whole essence was to create food sufficiency and reduce the impact of economic challenges as well as to drive away poverty. Two years down the line, we can see how it has helped people of the state better than their counterparts in the other states. It has helped to drive away hunger as much as possible from the state and how it has given a lot of people in the state incentives to go back to the number one thing that our society is known for- farming and growing food.
Do you see it as something that will affect or prevent the activities of office work?
It will encourage their activities because it is a farming you do at home and it will make you commit time to what you do and commit time to your home because it’s all about productivity. It’s satisfaction in person, satisfaction at home and satisfaction in your endeavor as a worker. Even if you have all the time on earth and you have hunger, you can’t work. As a civil servant or public servant, if you have all the time on earth and don’t have satisfaction, seeing nature- growing crops from nature which gives satisfaction, you will grow productivity but when you have enough food at home and you have something that attracts you, it makes you want to be at home. Those short hours that you stay at work place will be very productive because you are a happy person a happy mind brings a happy work but he who is not comfortable will not put in his or her best; so it doesn’t reduce the man hour. That’s why it’s cottage farming; it’s something you can do at your spare time.
For those who have zeal for bigger scale agriculture like industrial farming, commercial farming, the state has a provision for them and that one, they even have training and skills acquisition programs that Anambra State has made for them and some of them who wish do have incentives for loans through the Anambra State small scale business venture and such other initiatives of but the state and federal government; so those who want to engage in bigger farming have their provisions which the state has made for them. Those who are doing very small scale cottage farming just for food sufficiency at home have the Ugbo Azuno and that Ugbo Azuno as it is structured is so small that it doesn’t eat into your man hour for public service. Like here in Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation, we made it in such a way that it doesn’t eat into when you work or when you are supposed to be at work. I myself have my own farm but you don’t see me during office hours working in the farm but you don’t know what I do over the weekend. We made it in a way that nobody has more than enough for him or her to shoulder. We encourage people to take pride to farm and the results we have after the harvest was very encouraging.
Tell us your personal experience on cottage farming [Ugbo Azuno]
I planted yam, cassava, maize and vegetables. The vegetables were much even though I have no intention of selling it as well as my maize. I had to give out a lot and I was still happy and there’s no joy like feeding of something you produced with your hands. My yam didn’t do well as I expected but I can understand why because I didn’t have enough time to tend the crop at the early stage. Now, I have learnt my lesson and I will correct my mistake but my biggest shock was my cassava. Just one cassava plant was enough for a family; it was huge harvest for me with my cassava, vegetables and maize.
What is your advice to ndi Anambra?
Go for your own small cottage farm. It can actually be one ridge by your fence; it can be as much as a plot of land or half a plot but make sure you put something in the soil this year if you have not done because the reward is great and the kind of joy I do get when I go into my cottage farm over the weekend when the whole place is very quiet is like I find myself communicating with the plants and it’s a huge joy and I urge everyone to try it.