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Taking agric to next level

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ANAMBRA State since creation has passed through thick and thin in different sectors of her economy.
The affairs of the state has been piloted by different leaders including; Col Joseph Abulu- 27th August, 1991- January 1992, Chukwuemeka Ezeife- January, 1992- November, 1993, Dabo Aliyu- November, 1993- December, 1993, Mike Attah -December, 1993- August, 1996, Rufai Garba- August, 1996 – August, 1998; Emmanuel Ukaegbu – August, 1998-May, 1999, Chinwoke Mbadinuju- May, 1999- May, 2003, Chris Ngige- May 2003-March, 2006, Peter Obi- March, 2006- November, 2006,VirgyEtiaba- November, 2006-February, 2007 and Peter Obi-February, 2007-March, 2014.

On March 17, 2014, a pragmatic, energetic and visionary man, Chief Willie Maduaburochukwu Obiano took up the mantle of leadership with a total resolve to transform all sectors of the state’s economy. He quickly set up his action plan captured under four major pillars known as the economic pillars of development-Oil and Gas, Agriculture, Commerce and Industry and Industrialisation.

On assumption of office, five years ago, the governor created enabling environment that attracted investors to invest in different sectors of the state’s economy, particularly agriculture. He signed series of Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with various agricultural firms who invested billions of naira into the state’s agric system, thereby, boosting the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the state.

In the past five years, Obiano has succeeded in making Anambra State an investor’s haven with variety of agric partners and entrepreneurs being attracted to the state. The state’s rising profile as the haven for investments in sub-Saharan Africa actually began in May 2015 when the Coscharis Group made a massive entry into the state’s agricultural sector with $200m investment. The Coshed Farm was instituted in Anaku, Ayamelum Local Government Area. Since then, Anambra has continued to attract investors and entrepreneurs in the sector as the Obiano administration puts in concerted effort through its reform programmes that are intended to lift the state up to its rightful position as the home of entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa.

Since the arrival of Coched Farms, other agro-investors have followed suit such as; MIP Farms and Agro-Allied Ltd for the development of an integrated large scale commercial agricultural project. The project, which was located at Nkewlle-Ezunaka in Oyi Counci Area for the production of vegetable and spices in greenhouses, net-houses and open field, is situated on 30 hectares of land with a contract sum of N1.93billion.

The governor, while signing the contract, explained that his administration is instituting an agricultural revolution that would be sustained even after his administration. This marked his resolve to ensure food sufficiency and exports through mechanized and commercial farming, as well as attracting investors to join in the agricultural revolution drive of the state.

Moreover, the state also engaged Folio Holdings for the establishment of 4,000 hectares of commercial agricultural project valued at N60billion. This project was sited at Awba- Ofemili in Awka North LGA. The state equally partnered Triton Aqua Africa Ltd, Alluvial Farm Nigeria Ltd, as well as Choice International Group.

While signing the contracts, the governor noted that his administration had promoted agricultural development to strengthen the state’s economy, provide sufficient food and job security for Anambra citizens. However, the state had invested over N2billion in supporting farmers with over 500 cooperatives. According to the governor, “before my administration, the GDP of the state was N1.8trillion, but now, it has grown to N3.9trillion. My administration contributed N2.3trillion to the growth.

The state also moved into partnership with Chelsea Group Ltd for the development of mechanized large scale commercial agricultural project in Omasi in Ayamelum LGA. The project covered 10,000 hectares of land and involved massive cultivation of maize, cassava, soya bean and development of an ethanol plant.

Other investors included Ekcel Farms Ltd, a subsidiary of Oilserv Ltd. which penned down $150m agreement to take over the lucrative Omor Rice Mill, as well as the farm settlement and equally signed in $100 million for the production of cassava and tomato into bi-products for local and export markets. The project was in line with the state’s vision to become a first choice investment destination and a hub for industrialization and commercial activities.

The operation of the farm was undoubtedly, expected to maximize the utilization of local agricultural raw produce. Apart from the farmers being major consumers of their produce, Excel exposed them to the benefits of agricultural research in areas of crops utilization, land use maximization, as well as opportunities optimization. However, the choice of the product is being determined by the domestic and international demands for the processed agro-allied products and would be focused on target markets where currently, there exist supply gaps due to inability to meet high demands.

Other investors like Royal Farms and many others are eager to partner the state. Recently, the state moved into talks for collaboration with some agricultural authorities in Bangkok, Thailand, that would anchor on Governor Obiano’s promised agricultural revolution in Anambra State.

It would be recalled that while flagging off the 2016 farming season held, at Nteje, Oyi Local Government Council, Governor Obiano had firmly set the agenda for his agricultural revolution. Underscoring the importance of agriculture to ndigbo in his speech at the event, Chief Obiano had said, “from time immemorial, our ancestors judged a man by the strength of his farm. A man who could not feed his family was regarded as an efulefu! A failure! That tells us how important farming and agriculture in general was and will always be to our people.” Obiano rightly understood and set his attention on the possibilities of agriculture contributing at least 40% of the GDP of Anambra State. “This year”,he declared,” we shall force the doors of agricultural productivity open in Anambra State.”

The state equally partnered with the federal government to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Richbon Group for agricultural transformation in the state in particular and the nation at large. The project, which aimed at providing agricultural machinery and automobile assembly, had a contract sum of $400 million.

To further boost agricultural activities and increase food production in Anambra State, the state government equally signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Chelsea Farms Ltd worth $188 million (N68billion).

Signing the MOU, the governor explained that agriculture had gained momentum in the state,since he assumed office, noting that the state had done area mapping to ascertain the formation of soils suitable for individual farming products.

Governor Obiano explained that while the approximate cost of the MoU was $188 million, the state’s equity contribution amounted to about $18 million ( N 7.2 billion), while the investors were to contribute about $170 million (N 68 billion )
He did not mince words in expressing confidence in the investing companies and maintained that his government is fully exploring every agricultural potential to ensure food sufficiency, production, wealth creation and employment opportunities, as well as reducing to the barest minimum, the state’s dependence on Federal Allocation.

The project was carried out in three phases with contribution of the state and the investing company while the project contributed to a large extent to the realization of the state government’s vision in making agriculture a major foreign exchange earner.

However, for the past 1,825 days, Anambra has witnessed massive turn around in the agricultural sector which has affected positively the Gross Domestic Product of the state. With massive influx of investors into the agricultural sector, as well as exportation of agro- products, the state is already achieving the vision of becoming haven for investors in sub-Saharan Africa.

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