Alex Otti, governor of Abia State, has flagged off training of 50,000 farmers chosen across the 17 Local Government Areas of the state on Organic Agricultural Development and Practice.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in conjunction with the International Organization for Good Leadership and Agricultural Development chose Abia as one of 22 states for the training in order to enhance food security in the country.
Speaking at the event, Otti expressed delight for the selection of the state as one of the 22 pilot states to participate in the first phase of the programme.
He said that the aim of the programme was to promote non-agro business and ensure food sufficiency in the state.
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Governor Otti, who was represented by Ngozi Obioma, State Director of Agriculture Services, stressed that effective agricultural practices would promote good health, generate employment and engender rural farmers’ participation.
While urging Abia farmers to make themselves available for the training, the governor revealed that the N2,000 fee that was expected to be paid by each of the farmers participating in the training had already been paid by the government.
Also speaking, Monica Ironkwe, Commissioner for Agriculture, said that there was a need to revert to organic agriculture and practice because of the damage that had been done to agriculture and soil through the use of inorganic agricultural chemicals such as fertilizer and pesticides.
Ironkwe, who spoke through Edna Egbu, director of finance, ADP, noted that high cost of inorganic fertilizer, had made it almost unavoidable for small scale farmers to increase their cost of production.
She maintained that time has come for a change to organic agriculture, which according to her, produces nutrients that are non-toxic to the soil and guarantees the production of organic healthy food and rejuvenation of impoverished soil nutrients among other benefits.
Aloysius Chibuzor Mba, Abia State director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, stated that the ministry is committed to organizing and managing the agricultural sector to facilitate agricultural business, increase food security and employment, commodity value chain and agro- industrial development in order to earn foreign exchange and contribute to socio-economic development.
He maintained that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has not relented in its mandate in this direction.
Earlier in her remarks, Nnenna Uche Uduma, director-in-charge, Abia ADP, revealed that Abia State was lucky to be among the 22 pilot states for the training. She said that the selection was possible owing to the efforts of Governor Alex Otti in giving agriculture its pride of place in the state, as it remains one of the policies of his administration.
Uduma further assured that ADP would continue to collaborate with relevant agricultural agencies and institutes to train Abia farmers in various fields of agriculture and the extension agents to continue technology transfer and technical support to farmers.