The Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Willie Obiano has revolutionized the agricultural sector since he became governor of the state. Agriculture used to be the major revenue earner of the whole Eastern Region not only Anambra State.
His revelation in the sector is total; making food available for the state, nation and enough for export. Involvement of the state in agriculture is total so to speak. The state has special arrangement for the following products; cassava, vegetable, rice, yam etc. Each of the three senatorial zones has at least one of these major products that they are producing under the state partnership and coordination. Eight and halve of the local governments in the state are into rice production, Anambra East, West, Orumba North, South, Ayamelum, Ogbaru Ihiala. Cassava is produced in every L.G.A.
The state is collaborating with some donor agencies and consistently pays her counterpart funding to the likes of FADAMA, value chain, ACAPS in order to make these projects successful.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon Afam U. Mbanefo, told news men in his office that the state has attracted over N1.4bn (one point four billion naira) and that a lot of investment is coming into Agriculture through rice production, integrated farming, poultry, etc. His Excellency according to the Commissioner has developed an agency called ASPA. It manages loan facility. It works with central bank to attract some funds that were given out to Ndi Anambra farmers.
He gave details of the Governor’s plans and achievement in agriculture thus; “Right now we have attracted over N1.4bn in the commercial investment. A lot of investment is coming into agriculture through rice production, integrated farming, poultry, etc.
We are also developing strategic framework which we will use in thinking locally and thinking globally. That actually had driven passion and our drive to develop around the small holder farmer activities.
Under that we have developed land policy and land committee whose mandate is to acquire land and bank land for agro activities. Right now land acquisition committee has banked over 169,000 hectares of land from communities, because the committee goes to the environment, to the communities to preach the good news”.
The scheme has been extended to all farmers who have been keying into any of these schemes since 2015, immediately Governor Obiano took over. The Commissioner says the subscribers are documented for easy administration. “We need to develop information base to make sure we understand what our farmers do. This platform has details of our farmers, profiles of our farmers, and bio-data of our farmers. We practice traceability of our farmers.
We can tell you clearly where our farmers, communities where farmers do cassava. We can tell you the age range of these farmers. We can even tell the academic level of these farmers”, he disclosed.
The essence of the above is according to the commissioner is to ensure that investors get value for their investment, and sustain their production and increase the GDP of the state.
The project has been able to raise notable farmers is various farm products. Coscharis, and Lindel are notable names in poultry farming. Lindel alone has 100,000 birds and produces over 3000 crates of eggs daily. Coscharis is one of those who are into comprehensive farming; crop production and animal husbandry.
To solve storage problems that before then poses a great challenge to the farmers, the state has a huge investment in silos and grains preservation facilities in Igboarian; 25 metric tons for storage facility.
The massive investment by the state has culminated in branded Anambra rice, branded Anambra honey, branded Anambra ‘ugu’, branded Anambra fufu and cassava. The state now exports vegetables to America and Europe.
The state’s agricultural revolution is being piloted by credible individuals. Such persons like Mrs. Ifeyinwa Uzoka, Director Extension services, Anambra State ADP. She says that since Gov. Willie Obiano assumed office that farmers have been having good times. The state under her agency has been giving input to the people; Cassava Stems, improved rice seeds fertilizer etc.
The State through her agency has farmers being documented by capturing the size of the farmer’s farm, where he lives and what particular commodity he is producing and the quantity of his output.
She reveals that the Federal Government has come to Anambra and has seen what the state is doing in agriculture and want to simulate it in all extension services in Nigeria.
The state provides farmers with improved seedlings, and has embarked on land development. This has been possible through provision of tractors to the farmers whenever they need them.
She posited that a good avenue of developing farmers is through constant training on modern farming and retraining to keep the farmers updated on the best practices in farm extension.
Another driver in the Anambra agricultural revolution is Jude Nwankwo, Programme Manager, Anambra ADP. He says his agency go to the locations of registered farmers and assist them in various ways. They deal with people in clusters.
He says that Anambra farmers have been exporting vegetables to overseas. But that the programme managers first of all, went to identify a buyer and off-taker in the UK.
Another important player in the state agricultural development is Agwuncha Emma Nnamdi, programme coordinator Anambra State Value Chain Development Programme. He says that initially there used to be product glut among rice farmers who produce but no market. But the state has provided off-takers and processors who were encouraged to come to the state and set up their mills.
The state’s agricultural revolution has recorded some exceptional fits. A member of the Omor rice cluster, Peter Okonkwo was able to harvest 7.4 tons of rice pardy from one hectare of land. There are modern rice processing mills in Ayamelum. One of them is being operated by Okonkwo Joseph U and partners. They were given money by foreign partners to the state government. Another rice miller in Omor is Paul Udoka Egwuatu Chairman Udoka Rice Mill Limited Omor.
The state is developing a fish village concept where fish production will be done. Bloodstock, fingerlings will be produced and made available to fish farmers. This is being coordinated by young persons.