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Alleviating poverty through agriculture

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UNTIL the second quarter of this year 2020, nobody, organisation or nation envisaged the havoc that would be wrecked on all social strata by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The effects of the pandemic not only rest on dilapidation of the global economy, it also limited the financial markets, kept individuals in closed doors for months and continues to stretch the healthcare systems of various nations of the world. This infamous event has continued to threaten human existence and survival.

  This threat to human existence and various nations’ survival has not left the Nigerian nation out of the equation as she was given her own fair share of the global emergency. Before now, Nigeria as a nation over the years, has struggled in and out of recession. With the emergency of the first index case of the deadly coronavirus in the country, one needed no divination as the hand-writing was glaring that the effects of the pandemic as governments of the nation have always depended on the federal government for bail-out funds to facilitate infrastructural development, payment of workers’ salaries and above all, security.This dependency paradigm of these states has back-fired now that the mother hen has been devoured by its venomous predator.

  Only states like Anambra have continued to execute her primary duties of provision of infrastructure which includes roads and pipe-borne water, continuous luring of foreign direct investments and a huge effort in securing lives and properties of the state citizenry with a deliberate and conscious emphasis on food security. These policies of the Anambra State Government is evident and glaring in various parts of the state as its impacts like a diamond, continues to reflect on the life of her citizens.

  These developments in economy sector (human capital development inclusive), infrastructure and the dividends of good governance and democracy the state enjoys today wouldn’t be so without the dogged efforts of Governor  Willie Obiano, the executive governor of the state who has remained resolute and has refused to be distracted by feather weights in taking the state to greater heights.  The governor, even before his swearing-in as the chief security officer and the number one citizen of the state had identified security, infrastructural development and payment of workers’ salary, agriculture and economic development as the vocal points of his would be administration. He also emphasised on human capital development as a necessity as he noted earlier that  infrastructural development without carrying the citizens along would be suicidal and could be likened to shooting oneself on the foot.

  For the past six years that the Obiano led administration has been in control of the affairs of the state, Gov. Obiano has not failed or reneged on his promises to better the lives of ndi Anambra through developmental and sustainable policies. His desire to make Anambra independent of the oil economy and a state with diverse economic inflow has led to the agricultural revolution in the state. Under the Willie Obiano administration, farmers, small and medium scale enterprises in the state have continued to receive an unrivalled support from the government. Today, local farmers in the have access to loans, mechanised farming tools and implements and most importantly, farmers no longer have fear of continuous loss of farm produce as the state government always buy out their products if need be. Also, the state government has made provision of storage facilities across the state as well as provision of access roads into the hinterlands.

  To most small scale farmers, Gov. Obiano is a saviour who came when all hopes were lost, as most of his economic policies are people-oriented and are targeted at lifting the poor masses from the shackles of poverty. To this effect, it is no brainer that the state under Obiano stewardship continues to export her agricultural produce to various parts of the world and this brings an upturn in the state foreign reserves and also triggers foreign direct investment.

  Before the advent of coronavirus pandemic, he had initiated efforts in ensuring food security and sufficiency for Ndi Anambra with the introduction of cottage farm policy. As if the state government knew what was to come, the state had urged the state civil servants and other citizens to engage in farming as this would reduce the effects of hunger and economic recession in the country.

  When the pandemic struck and hunger took siege all over the country, citizens of Anambra State were not perturbed as they could go to their backyards and harvest food to eat. Also, while crimes like robbery increased in other states during this period, nothing as such happened in the state.  This would not have been possible without the state emphasisiing and supporting the need for subsistence farming.

  Speaking on Obiano’s visionary style of leadership, the Managing Director, Clear Drainage and Forest Preservation Agency, Chido Obidiegwu, described the governor as a leader with foresight, who had initiated the agricultural programme that will sustain her people before the emergence of the current COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the society. He further maintained that with Anambra State’s agric programme, Ndi Anambra are insulated from the harsh realities of COVID-19 to her economy.

  “Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano has seen tomorrow by engaging in robust farming project in the state to ensure food sustainability for ndi Anambra before the coronavirus pandemic suddenly came. When we talk about post COVID-19 situation, it seems Governor Obiano is the Nostradamus of our time. We have a governor who sees ahead. With the structure we have, we would not see much of hunger but we have to prepare, so we will not be taken unawares.” he said

  Gov. Obiano in his state as an innovative leader knows that the agricultural sector will not thrive and reach its glaring heights if necessary infrastructures are not on ground and efficient too.  In his vision for a better Anambra through agriculture, the Obiano-led administration has announced plans to prioritise water provision across the state.

  Also, the administration has embarked on transformational projects in rural electrification where commercial agricultural activities are taking place as it would improve productivity and attract investors to the state. With the increase in commercial activities in the state, direct and indirect labour are being created and more citizens have been lifted from unemployment.  The governor is leaving no stone unturned in the agricultural sector and alleviation of poverty.

  In the unwavering commitment of his administration towards agriculture as the backbone of Anambra’s economy, the state government has continued to empower farmers with the organisation of trainings in poultry farming, honey production, etc.The governor noted that these agricultural initiatives were help to empower women and youths of the state to be more productive as well as to earn a living through agriculture.

  In the same vein, 200 poultry cages for households, 4,000 day-old chicks, 4,200 bags of starter mash feed, chicks vaccines and medication for three weeks, 50 smokers, 50 hives tools and cutlasses, drinkers, 150 honey bee hives, 50 bee suits with rain boots, 50 swam catchers, 50 attractants, 200 packets of 2kg of maize, 500 feeders and and vines of yellow flesh sweet potatoes were distributed to participants of the trainings.

  In his quest to make Anambra State the authentic hub for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in Nigeria, he established Anambra Small Business Agency (ASBA), to fraternise with local, national and international financial institutions like the World Bank, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)  to provide single digit interest funding  for Micro, Medium and Small Enterprises (MSMEs). It also has the mandate to carry out capacity building through training and provide necessary advice for the empowerment and development of ndi Anambra.

  Under Obiano’s administration, various investments have been recorded in the state. Songhai farms, Lynden farms, Coscharis farms, Joseph Agro, among others are agro-allied business conglomerates that continuous to invest in the state.

  Obiano had in 2017, launched the Umueri Cargo Airport Project in Anambra East LGA, which he said would be developed on 1500-acres of land and would feature two runways, aviation fuel facility, aircraft maintenance facility, airport hotel, business park and international convention centre.

  Moreover, in 2020 budget, Anambra State Government set aside the sum of N6 billion for the construction of the Cargo Airport to forestall delay in the project and ensure delivery at the stipulated period.

  His partnership with African Development Bank for the construction of rural roads in 14 local governments of the state under Anambra Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP) at relatively short period to the  tune of $50m affirms that he was not courting any rhetoric but ready for real deal.  Ayamelum, Anambra East and West, Oyi, Dunukofia, Awka North and South, Aguata, Ihiala, Ogbaru, Idemili South and Aniocha Local Government Areas have either benefited or on the process of benefitting from rural road projects for easy carriage of agro products from areas of production to urban centres and markets.

  In extolling Gov. Obiano’s leadership quality, the commissioner for works, Marcel Ifejiofor said, ”Anybody who does not see his legacies across all facets of the state especially in the agricultural sector may be living in the moon. The governor has done wonderfully well and he is still doing. Some governors in their second tenure will think there are no jobs to be done but that is not Obiano for you”.

  “Even as federal government is battling with addressing agro products revenue loss through envisaged provision of enabling conditions, Anambra State’s move to make agrarian areas accessible through provision of roads cannot be more apt. The multiplier gains extend to job creation as road maintenance personnel would certainly be needed, agricultural workers of different categories as well as operators in transportation industry will have opportunity to play some parts.

  Delivering his inaugural speech on March 17, 2014, entitled, “Expanding the Frontier of Excellence’, Governor Obiano unfolded his administration’s four pillars of development, anchored on mechanised agriculture, oil and gas, trade and commerce as well as industrialisation, with their 12 enablers. Six years into his administration’s eight–year term, one is not left in doubt that the governor did not just utter those words as mere political statements but that he knew exactly what he wanted for the state and his  from the onset. He is a ‘man of his people”.

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