By James Eze (eziokwubundu”gmail.com)
Farmers in the 21 local government areas of Anambra State have unanimously endorsed the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, for a second term in office.
Endorsing the governor at the special ceremony that marked the flag-off of the 2017 Farming Season in Awka, the farmers unanimously honoured Governor Obiano with the title of “Ochendo ndi olu ugbo.”
Offering insights into the endorsement, the chairman, Anambra State Chapter, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) explained that Obiano’s three years in office represented a remarkable period in the lives of Anambra farmers and expressed the hope that the governor would be re-elected to enable him complete the great work he had started in the state.
Obiano’s endorsement by Anambra farmers came on the heels of previous endorsements by the town unions of the 177 communities in the state as well as members of the organised labour in the state.
Addressing the farmers at the heavily attended ceremony, Governor Obiano thanked the farmers for finding him worthy of such a great honour and subsequently announced that the theme for the 2017 Farming season, as: “Increasing Agricultural Productivity through Community Participation.” This, according to him, signposts his administration’s strategic approach to agricultural production for the new season.
The governor lauded the achievements his administration had recorded in agriculture during the past farming season and expressed contentment with the growing interest in farming by the larger population.
“In our dear state, for instance, I am proud to note that youths are joining the agricultural sector. Our Farmers Information Management System confirms that out of 106,000 farmers currently registered in our database, 24% of them are youths below the age of 40 years while those aged 40 – 80 occupy about 75% of our farmers list,” Governor Obiano revealed.
Summing up the achievements of his administration in the last farming season, Governor Obiano announced that rice production had gone from 244,235.25 metric tons that was recorded in the last season to 322,000 metric tons. “With this achievement, we have effectively surpassed our annual consumption figure of 320,000 metric tons,” the governor declared.
According to him, following the achievements recorded in the outgone season, the administration is projecting a yield of 513,591.84 metric tons for 2017. “To achieve this projection, we hope to increase the size of land used in rice cultivation from 54,274.50 hectares to 57,065.76 hectares in 20017. This will be supported, of course, by the use of improved seedlings and other technical inputs that aid a higher yield,” he further explained.
The governor also revealed that his administration had perfected plans to grow the yield in cassava from 1,792,596 metric tons recorded in 2016 to 2, 151, 115.20 metric tons in 2017. Maize output is also expected to grow from 39, 902.40 metric tons to 280, 563.75 metric tons in 2017 while a similar growth is anticipated in vegetables production output from 120,600 metric tons in 2016 to 1,447,200 metric tons in 2017.
Further enumerating the achievements of his administration in agriculture, Governor Obiano recalled that the agricultural sector created 725 direct jobs and 5200, established two tractor hering centres in Awkuzu and Omor and attracted investments valued at $1.2bn.
Offering insights into what his administration plans to achieve in the new farming season, Governor Obiano disclosed that he had engaged some experts to closely study the Lower Anambra-Imo River Basin Development initiative with a view to coming up with a cost effective means of irrigating 8,500 hectares of arable and flat land. “We have also embarked on a heavy investment in the procurement of ultramodern Cooling Vans and a Conditioning Centre that would boost our export of perishable produce,” he explained.
Similarly, he revealed that his administration had invested the sum of N295 million in the procurement of agricultural input and seeds, which includes the procurement of certified rice seeds, high-variety, termite-free cassava stems and improved Ugu seeds that would be distributed free to farmers.
“However, the big news for Anambra farmers and agro-entrepreneurs in this farming season is that we have earmarked the sum of N500 million, as a special intervention fund for agro-entrepreneurs and MSM operators in the state. The fund shall be managed by ASBA to ensure efficient disbursements as usual,” governor Obiano further announced.
He also explained that his administration had formally registered Anambra Rice, Anambra Gari, Anambra Ugu, Anambra Yam and Anambra Honey. “This will help in product differentiation and brand identity projection in a competitive market place. Anambra brands must be distinctive in any market,” Governor Obiano declared.