Agricultural revolution started by Gov. Willie Obiano in Anambra State has began to yield huge rewards in food sufficiency and even commercial farming. OZO RAY reports:
UPON inception of his administration in 2014, Governor Willie Obiano made agriculture his number one pillar, thereby making a fervent commitment to guarantee food security in the state. Hence there came a revolution in the agricultural sector of the state economy.
His regime ended the era of hoe and cutlass farming in Anambra when he flagged off the first ever planting season of his administration in 2014, at Oyi Local Government Headquarters, Nteje, where he made an affirmative statement to usher in a new era of mechanised agriculture to enable farmers labour less but have abundant harvest for commercial and subsistence.
That was how Governor Willie Obiano began to feed Anambra families with five loaves of bread and two fishes. On the occasion of the commencement of the 2021 wet season farming, Obiano recounts his experience on the journey so far as the state plans to cultivate 35000 hectres of land to sustain the food security mantra of his administration.
Obiano at the launch of this year’s wet season farming at Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka, told ndi Anambra, especially farmers how the agric sector has metamorphosed from a mere tilling of the soil into a more organised agro-allied sector where real farmers have been beneficiaries of loans, grants, tractors and agro-inputs in line with best practices in modern day farming across the globe. Thus, Obiano said:
” This is the eight farming season under my watch and the most significant for obvious reasons. One of the reasons is that this is the last wet season farming flag off under my regime. The second reason is that after seven intensive years of recording excellent results in agriculture, ndi Anambra became used to success. So we cannot afford to let ndi Anambra down. So this farming season and the dry season farming are my last parting gifts to Anambra farmers.
” My people, I personally believe that the farm of the future must fulfill three important promises: it must feed the people; it must protect the environment and it must offer a healthy return on investment. The theme of this year’s planting season was carefully selected to drive the fulfillment of these promises.
The theme is ‘Empowering the Youths to Engage in Agriculture for Sustainable Development.’ Under this theme, our approach is to mechanise agriculture and encourage production of targeted crops. Next is to stimulate agro businesses and investments by taking advantage of the opportunity created by our new International Cargo and Passenger Airport, at Umueri, to boost export activities.
” We are commencing this year’s farming with some new agro-inputs like CBN Funded Accelerated Development Scheme and Ugbo-Azu-Uno Initiative Programme. The agro-inputs include organic fertiliser and urea, cassava stem bundles, certified rice seeds, certified maize seeds, animal feed for sheep and goats, Okra and tomato seeds.
” Ndi Anambra, when we flagged off our first farming season on May, the 15th, 2014, at Nteje, we knew we were on the right path but we could not predict was the huge impact of our policy direction would have on our dear state. Today, rice production in our dear state has risen from a paltry 80,000 metric tons per annum in 2014 to 4,40000 metric tons per annum in 2020.
Likewise cassava production increased from 275,832 metric tons in 2014 to 2, 60,000, 687 metric tons in 2020. Maize production rose from 15, 902 metric tons in 2015 to 63, 255 metric tons in 2020 and vegetable production increased from 48,000, 32 metric tons in 2015 to 3, 21, 600 metric tons in 2020. The land utilisation has also increased within the period under review.
” When we came in, rice per hectare was paltry but now rice per hectare is about 12 tons. Before it was about 4 tons per hectare. Anambra has over 160,000 farmers and 3000 cooperative societies duly registered in the Ministry of Agriculture and most importantly, most of our farmers have made swift transition from our season farming to all year round farming with increased irrigation, adaptation and adoption of global best practices in agriculture.
We have made adequate arrangements to provide more access to capital intensive farm machineries like tractors and other equipment to our farmers. This will enable us meet our target of cultivating 35000 hectres of land in this farming season.
To achieve this, we have developed over 1,177 hectres of land rice production. We have also commenced the construction of farm houses and one kilometer access road at Ndi-Ikelionwu, Orumba North Local Government Area and Ogbakuba in Ogbaru Local Government Area under the CBN Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme. A pilot number of 1000 youths will be selected from the 3 senatorial zones of the state to benefit from the programme.
We hope to increase production of rice from 4,40,000 metric tons to 5,25000 metric tons this year. We are also planning to increase cassava production from 2, 60,687 metric tons to 2,139, 944 metric tons and increase maize production from 63000 to over 74000 metric tons this year. We have also set targets for vegetables and yams.
” For the livestock subsector, our expression of interest to participate in the World Bank Assisted Livestock Productivity and Reliance Support Project will increase food security in the state. We will continue to promote the rearing of Efi-Igbo, aquaculture and piggery as alternative sources of protein. I am delighted to inform you that Anambra International Cargo Airport will soon be commissioned.
This will help us increase our agro-export activities. We will continue to build on the solid foundation we have laid in agriculture to expand our capacity, create sustainability plans and fulfill the great promise of having agriculture as the number one pillar of my economic blueprint.
” No doubt, Governor Willie Obiano has indeed fed ndi Anambra with five loaves of bread and two fishes judging from the transformations and innovations in the Agricultural sector. It therefore behoves on ndi Anambra to take advantage of the enabling environment created by the incumbent state government to sustain the legacies in the agricultural sector of the state economy”.
Also the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Alhaji Sabo Nanono, who was represented at the official launch of the 2021 wet season farming by the State Director Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Arthur Mbuba, said the federal government was absolutely delighted with the ongoing agricultural programmes in Anambra state aimed at dismantling all impediments militating against increased agricultural productivity in the state.
Nanono said the federal government was happy that the state government was willing to give into all agricultural programmes of the federal government as a partner in progress. Farmers in Anambra State and indeed ndi Anambra in general , the governor has told you by his actions that agriculture is a big business and no longer a household peasant farming.
Anambra State is known for the export of some agricultural crops such as vegetables and Anambra rice which has gained national acceptance. The minister maintained that the federal government is striving very hard to encourage wet season farming across the country in order to eradicate hunger and improve gross domestic products.
His said the efforts culminated into the establishment of stable crops processing zones across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. The minister however, commended the state governor for his prompt payment of counter parts funds to assist agricultural based donor agencies sponsored projects in the state such as Value Chain Development Project. That the federal government has also made provisions to support Anambra farmers through subsidised agro-chemicals, equipment, recapitalisation of Bank of Agriculture for enhanced lending to farmers, the N-Power agro programme, the presidential initiative on fertiliser and a host of others.
Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Agriculture in Anambra, Mr. Nnamdi Onukwuba noted that the theme of the 2021 wet season farming launch, ‘ Empowering the Youths to Engage in Agriculture for Sustainable Development’ is very apt and underscores the collective resolve to empower youths through mechanised agriculture as well as engaging in agric business for self-sustenance, adding that about 1000 youths drawn from the three senatorial districts will be engaged in rice production at Ndi Ikelionwu and Ogbakuba respectively under the ANSG/CBN-AADS Loan Scheme. The effort, according to him, is expected to increase our overall rice production from 440,000 Mt in 2020 to 525,000 My in 2021.
Onukwuba therefore, emphasised that the Anambra State has keyed into the World Bank Assisted L-PRES; that the state will through the project boost livestock productivity and expand production of Efi-Igbo, aquaculture and piggery as alternatives to protein sufficiency. According to him, posterity will judge Governor Obiano positively for his undaunting efforts in the agric sector, stressing that his score card speaks volumes of him.
That under his watch as governor, rice production increased from 80,000 Mt in 2014 to projected 525,000 Mt in 2021. Cassava production increased from 275,832 Mt in 2014 to projected 2,139, 944 Mt in 2021 while maize production increased from 15,902Mt in 2014 to projected 74, 935 Mt in 2021. The commissioner also explain that Anambra State has a comparative advantage in vegetables and yam production; that the set target for vegetables in 2021 is 482,400Mt and for yam is 110,0000Mt. He therefore noted that the aforestated production figures could only have been achieved from a well_ articulated agric blueprint of a futuristic government.
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