Anambra on course to boost food security

The Anambra State government under Willie Obiano’s administration has outlined plans to make agriculture a leading contributor to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth, sustainable development, and improvement of the social well-being of the people.

The governor disclosed his administration’s agricultural programme to boost food production and make the state the food basket of Nigeria during a special event to mark the thirty years of the creation of the state tagged Anambra @ 30 held recently in Awka the state capital.

Obiano stated that agriculture is his number one economic pillar and that he intends to make it a major source of employment.

“The agrarian communities in the state are the largest employer of labour and a major source of wealth, income, and poverty alleviation, hence, are number one in the developmental plans of the state”, Obiano stated.

Going by the World Bank report of 2020, nearly 690 million people, or 8.9 percent of the global population, are hungry, up by nearly 60 million in five years. And that the food security challenge will only become more difficult, as the world will need to produce about 70 percent more food by 2050 to feed an estimated nine billion people.

The governor reiterated that his administration is poised to make the state the food reservoir of the country.

In his address to the people of the state, he outlined his key achievements in the agricultural sector some of which are; increase in the crop production yield through the adoption of the best agronomic practices, partnership with Cosharice Group, and Josan Agro in rice production, and processing in the state.

Besides, the state he said is partnering with Chelsea Farms Limited in rice and cassava production and processing; Lynden Farm in the establishment of integrated poultry farms.

Moreover, to boost the production of rice and cassava, Anambra State partnered with the African Development Bank and the Federal Government of Nigeria under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda project in the development of infrastructures.

Read also: FG to partner farmers & cooperatives to boost food production, agric-business

However, some farmers from the state who spoke with BusinessDay seem to be at variance with the agricultural development programmes of the governor. Farmers from Idemili North, Idemili South, Nnewi North, Aguata, and Orumba North Local Government Areas denied receiving incentives or support from the state. One of the farmers said.

“We buy cassava stems and rice seeds on our own; the government is not giving us any help at all.”

Nnamdi Onukwuba, commissioner for Agriculture debunked the claims, stating that the governor has been lending supportive hands to young farmers in the state.

“For instance, a few weeks ago Gov. Obiano provided agricultural equipment for our young farmers so that they will not feel lonely about their talent because we cannot keep training a particular person instead we train different people”, the commissioner stated.

The governor said his programme ‘Empowering the Youths to Engage in Agriculture for Sustainable Development’ is a carefully selected initiative to fulfill one of the state’s pillars of development promises.

Under this programme, the approach of the Anambra State government is to mechanize agriculture and encourage the production of target crops for backward integration.

Next is to stimulate Agro-business and investment by taking advantage of the opportunity created by the new International Cargo/Passengers Airport at Umueri to boost export activities.

Consequently, Obiano flagged off Wet Season Farming with some new agro-inputs: CBN-funded Accelerated Development Scheme (AADS) and the Ugbo Azu-Uno initiative programme.

In seven years that Obiano steered the ship in Anambra State, rice production has risen from a paltry 80,000 metric tons per annum in 2014 to more than 440,000 metric tons per annum in the year 2021; likewise, cassava production, which increased from 276,000 metric tons in 2014 to more than 2.1 million metric tons in 2021.

Maize production rose from 16,000 metric tons in 2015 to more than 64,000 metric tons in 2021 and vegetable production increased from 48,000 metric tons in 2015 to more than 322,000 metric tons in 2021.

Land utilization also increased and stands at over 95,200 hectares due to the influx of more people into agriculture.

Today, Anambra has over 160,000 farmers and 3,000 Co-operative Societies duly registered. Most of our farmers have made a swift transition from one-season farming to year-round farming with the increasing use of irrigation and the adoption of global best practices in agriculture.

The state government is equally constructing two fish villages at Adazi Nnukwu and Aguleri, with six hundred pounds, which will further engage six hundred youths when completed, while also expanding production of horticultural crops, tomatoes, onions, cucumber, ginger, and other vegetables to enable Anambra State to become self-sufficient, among others.

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