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Ugbo Azuno’ll enable food security

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As farmers in Anambra State continue to receive farm inputs provided by the state government to boost agric produce, CHIKAODI CHUKWULETA and BLESSING NNABUIFE interviewed former Commissioner for Environment and Traditional Prime Minister, Awba Ofemmili, Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State, Chief Sebastian Okoye, Dr. Victor Okezie and Paul Maduekwe on the essence of cottage farming amid the rising cost of food items. Excerpts:

Everyone should embrace farming – Okoye

HOW has farming been of benefit to you and your family?

  Before I became a commissioner, I was into farming but I came back full time after serving as a commissioner. Agriculture has been my base all these while and with it, I am taking full responsibility of all that I am supposed to do as a man and it has been helping me. Agriculture is one area that every right thinking somebody will endeavour to participate in.

Do you think agriculture will play a role by reducing the cost of living and ensuring food security in Nigeria?

  Automatically yes. Not only that it will better the cost of living, it will ensure security because the major problem that we are having today is so many people not to be engaged in one way or the other but with agriculture, you don’t have the time to involve in things that will bring to you. I believe that with agriculture, one can go far. The only major problem farmers have as a sector is finance. The federal government is doing a lot but the problem is that what they’re providing for the farmers don’t actually get to the main farmers on the average. Just like every other business, agriculture is capital intensive. It requires a lot of finance.

  I am into processing mainly, and to acquire the processing machine and other things, it requires a lot of money and even when you approach the Bank of Industry, before it will get to you, it will take time. Most of the loans that Central Bank is giving out don’t reach to most of the average farmers and that’s the major setback. Capital is what every average farmer will be complaining of . There’s been a distribution of seedlings to the farmers but because it doesn’t get to the average farmers, you will see them selling the fertiliser and the rest of the other things to people.

How do you see the governor policy for all to embrace farming?

  Generally speaking, farming is one area that every person should participate because everyone needs food. The governor’s effort is very nice, especially for the civil servants who don’t have time because of the nature of their work but you can go into cottage farming and also, animal husbandry. You can make use of your backyard and be making money for yourself. It’s a very nice idea and I appreciate the governor of Anambra State for doing that and I also advise civil servants to take advantage of cottage farming.

What measure is necessary to ensure all round farming and reduction of waste farm produce?

  One major problem that we have is infrastructural problem. Most of the places that we produce these crops don’t have roads and that translates to high cost of transportation and increase in the prices of food.  We need to go to the second stage of farming by adding value to it. For example, if you sell tubers of cassava, you will not get the same amount of money you’ll get when you process it into garri and that’s because value has been added.  Same thing is applicable to other areas. So, i will be happy if the government will encourage small scale industries. It will reduce the waste we’re having from our rural farmers but the most important thing is good road. But good road or not, farming is a very good thing and is a lucrative business just that it is capital intensive.

What areas are your major concentration in farming?

  I am into rice production and rice processing, palm oil processing and cassava processing and I am comfortable having laid the foundation.

What advice will you give to farmers regarding improving their yields, among others?

  One major problem we have sometimes is what we call extension farmers. Farmers should be organised in groups and be educated on the modern ways of farming, when and where to apply some things to the crops like fertiliser, insecticides, among others but most of the time, because of capital, so many farmers don’t maintain their farms.

Cottage farming, welcome idea – Okezie

SEEING the situation of things in the country, the Governor of Anambra  State, Chief Willie Obiano is encouraging  cottage farming (Ugbo Azuno). What is your take on this?

  First of all, I have to commend the governor of Anambra State, Dr Willie Obiano. I call him the Action Governor because in all the eastern states of the federation, we have had a lot of good work that he is doing in Anambra State and to me, he is the best governor. Bringing in this idea of cottage farming is a welcome idea. We will not know the benefit for now but during the days when we were growing up, I know we did not experience anything like hardship, why?

Because our parents as at then had more of cottage farms. If there is no money, they will get food from the cottage farm and we eat and be satisfied but it’s no more happening now and that’s why most people find it difficult to feed very well. But the idea of having this cottage farming is very good. We will not lack especially this time that we are facing hardship and this is the only way to beat the hardship in Nigeria.

  Some people are still waiting for government to give them a huge amount of money before they start but it’s not good, start from little and I am sure it will yield very big.  I have been in some parts of the western country and such a thing is happing there. So, we need this in our country when we start it, we will enjoy it.  

How do you look at the high rate of inflation in the country?

  This is a country where the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. There is inflation in our country, Nigeria, but some of our leaders are trying. The problem we are having here is that when something is being given to the masses, the people who are representing us there will not distribute it. They are practicing selfishness. For example, somebody will travel to another country and deposit huge amount of money whether we are moving forward or not? A lot need to be done in this country and it’s supposed to start with our leaders.

Seeing the way Nigeria is moving, most especially in the area of insecurity, do you see any remedy at all?

  There is, but everybody will be involved. We cannot leave this battle for the police or army alone. With the help of the government and traditional rulers, we can create vigilant groups in our communities. We are always eager of what the government will do for us but we don’t think of what we can do for the government so that we can have a stable government in the sense that whatever we they need, give it to us.

Any advice to the public concerning cottage farming?

  Let us not wait for the government to do everything for us. Let’s go back to farming no matter the little space you have, make use of it and it will yield a great thing. We should not wait until we have millions of naira before you start. Little thing can give us what we want and that will make Nigeria great and better.

It’ll help fight hunger, current hardship – Maduekwe

SEEING the situation of things in the country, the governor of Anambra State Chief Willie Obiano has approved Cottage Farming (Ugbo Azuno). What is your take on this?

  I am so pleased and commend our able governor, Akpokuodike for his heart felt encouragement to the citizens and residents of Anambra State to indulge in cottage farming. This will contribute a lot towards the welfare of livelihood of Ndi Anambra. Because at the moment, the high cost of food stuffs and it’s scarcity have caused more harm to our society.

This will contribute to a lot of factors and challenges that the masses are suffering from.  It will reduce the crime rate amongst our youths; it can also serve as a means of income to the masses which will enable them to afford to pay their various bills.  The idea will contribute a lot in various factors.

 Do you see any advantage of it? Can it be a way of encouraging people to go back into farming which a lot has abandoned?

  It will contribute a huge advantage towards the hunger and hardship in our present society; it is also an encouragement for the people that don’t know the value and outcome of agricultural farm production.  The inflation of agricultural products is an opportunity for the masses to go back to farming, which has helped past generations of many decades ago. Most farmers consider it as a means of income which enables them feed their various families out of the fruits harvested from their farms.

 Do you see it as a way of putting food in the table for people?

  It is a very good means of putting food on the table of people, because one can be able to consume the agricultural products without going to the market to buy.  If produced or harvested in large quantity, it becomes a means of financial income, as most farmers earn their living out of agricultural business.

 How do you look at the high rate of inflation in the country?

  The high rate of inflation in Nigeria has contributed to the hardship amongst the masses.I personally advise and encourage every low and average income earner in Nigeria to indulge in agricultural farm production. By so doing, it will reduce the hardship and hunger in our present society.

  Seeing the way Nigeria is moving, most especially in area of insecurity, do you see any remedy at all?

  On this point, agricultural farm production can serve as a means of employment amongst our youths whom are willing to add value to their lives. For some decades now, federal government is empowering the masses with loans to encourage them in agricultural business, which I commend our federal and state governments for the empowerments into farming. This will help in a long way to solve the security problem and cut down the crime rate in our present society.

Do you see farming as a means of livelihood?

  Farming is a means of livelihood because it is the agricultural farm products that we consume as a means of food intake, and no human being can earn a living without food. It also serves as a means of financial income amongst the farmers.

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