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Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi take to farming

Farming

Farming

Southeast states have taken to massive investment in agriculture, aggressive revenue drive and encouragement of local manufacturers.

In Enugu State, the government last year organised the first ever-economic summit during which it showcased the economic potentials of the state and invited investors to invest in the state. It equally showcased some of her moribund industries that need revitalisation, insisting that government was ready to enter into partnerships that could get the companies back to life. The state government’s reckoning was that with improved investments, it would ultimately impact on the revenue of the state, as well as create employment. It would also aid government’s developmental efforts.

The state has given agriculture a boost with the release of about N2.4million to prevent and contain the resurgence of the highly pathogenic Avian Infleunza by purchasing 400 liters Virucidal disinfectants among others.

Enugu State Agricultural Development Programme (ENADEP) distributed 60,000kg of open pollinated maize seedlings to 105 farmers, 110,000kg of rice seedlings to 125 farmers, 1,400 yam seedlings to 22 farmers, 390,000 clarias fingerlings to 195 fish farmers and 30,000 Tilapia fingerlings to 52 farmers through the West African Agricultural Productivity Project (WAAPP) among other inventions.

The FADAMA111 also collaborated with the state in training of farmers in Nkanu east, Isiuzo, Nkanu west, Oji River, Ezeagu, Uzouwani, Aninri to improve cultivation of rice in the state among others.

Anambra: Years For Industrial Expansion
IN Anambra, Governor Willie Obiann has expressed worry over the state’s dwindling capacity for industrialization. He charged: “We are worried about our hard working industrialists who have thousands of our people working in their factories in Onitsha, Nnewi and other parts of the state. We are worried about the owners of small businesses and start-ups for whom this recession has been the ultimate dream killer. We are worried about the low-income earners- the wheelbarrow pushers, the cleaners in various offices and the petty traders in our different market.”

To confront recession, the government embarked on some key interventions in agricultural sector, and distributed 250 tonnes of certified rice seedlings, 300 tonnes of maize and 30,000bundles of termite-resistant cassava stems to farmers at the onset of the planting season. The state invested heavily in food production through partnership with donor assisted programs, including the Sasakawa global 2000 project (cassava and rice), the Atlas 1(cassava and rice), International fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) value chain development programe (cassava and rice), FADAMA 111AF(rice), Anambra-World Bank Rice Irrigation Project and the National Program for Food Security.

In rice specifically, production hit an estimated 230,000 metric tonnes above the 2016 target of 210, 000 metric tonnes. According to Obiano, “Rice yield has improved from 3.3 mt/hectare to 5.5 mt/hectare on the average.

The Commissioner for Agriculture in Anambra, Mr Afam Mbanefo said the increase in rice production was due to the blueprint adopted by government. He disclosed that the state allocated over N5.4 billion to agriculture in 2017 to boost rice and cassava production.

Commenting on more efforts of government, the state Director of Information, Mr Emeka Ohuoha said the state government is fast-tracking the roll-out of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) anchor borrowers program to assist farmers financially, and has provided the Anambra Small Business Agency (ASBA)
N3b to lend to SMEs and MSMEs at nine percent interest rate across key sectors

On social intervention, he said government has suspended with immediate effect hawkers permit, wheelbarrow tax in all markets, consolidated emblems for buses, taxis, trucks etc, as well as, unapproved students levies in public primary and secondary schools.

Ebonyi
WHEN Governor David Umahi attended the Economic and Security Summit of the Southeast states held in Enugu in December last year, he stunned guests when he declared that the state was moving towards feeding the country with ‘Ebonyi rice’. He stated that his government was poised to ensure that it doubled the output of the local brand of rice this year, adding that the modest effort in agriculture was already achieving huge results, with several farms coming up with support from his administration.

It is worth recalling that even before the modest efforts made by the Umahi-led administration to make farming attractive in the state, the previous government of Martin Elechi administration had ignited the fire by sponsoring the practical training of two contingents of over 120 Ebonyi youths at the Songhai Centre in Benin Republic. The beneficiaries received the sum of N200m as credit package to help them actualise their agricultural entrepreneurial potentials.

The then administration initiated the establishment of three Modern Rice Milling factories in the three senatorial zones of the state. They are located at Iboko, Oso-Edda and Onuigboji, with customised machines from Satake Corporation of Japan at the cost of over N1bn. This was in addition to the establishment of the Ebonyi Rice world, which now massively produces and packages the popular Ebonyi rice.

This is the background, which fired Umahi, who followed it up with the launch of the one-man-one-hectare policy. The Governor said the essence of the policy was to enable its citizens participate actively in its Agricultural revolution.

He said: “The government is planning to introduce six mega-rice cities in the state and any Local Government Area (LGA) that covers 5, 000 hectares of land for rice production would benefit from the interventions. We would inaugurate irrigation facilities, social amenities, rice husk power plants, rice mills, among others, in such areas with active collaboration of the World Bank and the Central Bank of Nigeria,” he stated.

The governor urged civil servants to key into the agricultural revolution and earmarked N1b to support farmers in achieving massive crop production. “We have provided improved seedlings, soft loans, fertilizers, among others, to farmers while the state has been covered in the various agricultural policies of the Federal Government. Rice farmers now have improved proceeds from their rice production activities as the Federal Government has ensured that the era of importing chaffs in the name of foreign rice is gone. That is the reason for the adoption of mechanized form of agriculture in our revolution plans, as it will lead to commercial production with the procurement of modern equipment, such as tractors and harvesters,” he said.

The government also provided 13 bulldozers, 40 tractors with all other complementary equipment; agro chemicals, fertilizers, while herbicides and seedlings were given to farmers at an interest free arrangement.

IFAD and FADAMA counterpart funds were paid by the government to access funds for the development of hectares of land. The government also acquired 250,000 hectares of arable land targeting over 8,000 civil servants and 65,000 farmers to cultivate rice.

The result of the agricultural programme of the government is financial boom for rice farmers in the state. People across the country flooded Ebonyi State asking for Ebonyi rice. Presently, a bag sells between N18, 000 and N19, 000. This was not the case in the past because the local rice was grossly neglected.



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