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Agriculture: Not yet boom but heading there

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WITH a land area of approximately 4,416km2, Anambra State has a population of about 4,182,032. It is estimated that close to 338,000 families in the state are agrarian.

  Before now, the state has been characterised with low level of agricultural output that translated into vicious cycle of poverty, lack of basic amenities and high rate of unemployment.

  Notwithstanding the industrial base of the state, driven by the private sector, ranging from agro allied, automobile and manufacturing industries, situated mostly in Nnewi, agro-practice is still a mainstay in the state’s economic growth.

  In Orumba South LGA, Anambra West LGA, in Anambra East LGA, yam is known to be produced in abundance while fishery products are predominant in Ogbaru LGA.

  The state has a vision of becoming the most economic vibrant state in Sub-Sahara Africa, serving as the economic hub of the continent. The state Agric Investment Plan (SAIP) is aimed at ensuring food security and affordability to ndi Anambra as well as ensuring that raw materials go to agro-based industries through environmental friendly and private sector driven development in agriculture.

  The roadmap is also set up to ensure significant increase in areas under cultivation of arable crops, provision of basic infrastructure in fishing communities and to enhance the population of livestock farming.

  Since it was created in 1991, the state’s Ministry of Agriculture has witnessed various changes in areas like policy initiatives, staffing, manpower training and funding of programmes.

  The agric sector has witnessed tremendous growth through initiatives of the state in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and donor agencies such as Africa Development Bank (AfDB), lslamic Development Bank (lsDB), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), lntervention Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), Japanese lnternational Cooperation Agency (JICA) and World Bank.

  Anambra’s embrace with agriculture dates back to immemorial but the state made a significant stride when it started a partnership with Agriculture Development Programme (ADP) as a bilateral program with the World Bank in 1975.

  The idea as championed by the state and ADP then was to integrate agricultural and rural development, improve the standard of living and welfare of farmers, with ADP being the implementation arm of the state Ministries of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

  Its mainstay is to greatly reduce the cost of living, particularly in the urban areas with everybody being able to wholly or partly feed themselves.

  In line with the objective of ensuring food sufficiency through robust agric scheme, as enunciated by past governments, the current state government under Governor Willie Obiano upped the tempo by entering into public private partnership arrangement with Coscharis Farm and other agro-based companies for broader agro-produce in the state.

  This partnership yielded visible result with Anambra rice coming into the market in large scale for the first time and made available to all the state workers at the end of every year as take-home gift.

  Equally, investors in agric business have broadened the system to ensure that apart from rice, other agric produces are exported to other countries.

  Despite these obvious successes, food sufficiency in the state is yet to be fully achieved to show for the efforts this present administration has made to leave ndi-Anambra with enough feed and better life.

  If only budget on agriculture should be increased, chances of increased output would get better and brighter.

  It is equally important that proper monitoring of disbursements in the sector to be periodically carried out to save waste and impolitic diversions. This will not only improve productivity but enhance people’s confidence in their government and policies.

  While Anambra State deserves a pat on the back for mileage covered in agriculture, there is growing need to improve on the structures that will promote mechanised farming against the currently obtained predominant subsistence practice. In this regard, the use of modern farm implements such as tractors, silos, loan schemes should be given better attention.  

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