Stories by Ben Dunno, Warri
Celebratiing new yam festivals in some parts of the country is as old as the culture and tradition of such communities.
It was not surprising therefore, that Igbodo community in Ika North East Local Government Area of Delta State chose to celebrate this year’s new yam festival with fun fare.
It was an occasion that attracted illustrious sons and daughters of the community , both far and near, as the annual festival has become a rallying point , where indigenes converge to celebrate their rich culture .
The uniqueness of the festive period could even be felt in the air, as the weather is usually friendly and favourable, indicating the pleasant disposition of nature to the event and the happy mood of the people ,who put behind them whatever differences they might have, to celebrate what unites them more as a people.
The new yam festival is not only a yam eating festival, but a very symbolic event, which promotes cultural affinity that unite the community, from one generation to another.
Speaking at the grand finale of this year’s new yam festival , the traditional ruler of Igbodo kingdom, Obi Ikechukwu Osadume 1, appealed to the state government to tap into the strength of farmers in Igbodo community, to boost it’s ‘Delta Beyond Oil’ programme:
‘’Farmers in the community have the strength to grow various types of crops, including yam, cassava, tomatoes, pepper and maize. It was due to the commitment of the farmers that the community remains the food basket of the state.”
Obi Osadume 1, represented by the Iyase of the kingdom, Chief Ifeanyi Unomah, maintained that because of the commercial production of farm produce in the community, traders come from various parts of the country, to the Igbodo market , including travelers on the ever busy Asaba-Benin-Lagos Road.
The traditional ruler stated that one major area government could provide jobs for the teaming youths is agriculture, stressing that those who have already embraced farming should be encouraged , by giving them soft loans, providing farm implements, as well as construction of markets, storage facilities and food processing industries, to check wastages.
Obi Osadume pledged the people’s continued support to goals and aspirations of the state government, even as he promised that the community would remain very peaceful.
President general of the community, Chief Peter Chiemeke, expressed gratitude to God for the bountiful harvest, describing the people as peaceful and hardworking. He also appealed for government presence in the community, saying the people would continue to strive to move the community forward.
Mr. Nkem Nweke commended the people for their dedication and hard work in the area of farming, pointing out that community’s success story in farming was as a result of the people’s commitment to promoting food sufficiency in the state.
He attributed the present recession in the country to over dependence on oil revenue over the last four decades, and called on government at all levels to place more emphasis in developing the agricultural sector, as a way out of the current recession.
Nweke, specifically implored the state government to look in wards to know how it could boost the growth of both small and medium scale farming in the state, especially in Igbodo community, noting that any agricultural investment in Igbodo community would not be a wasteful one, as the people have proved themselves beyond all reasonable doubts, as dedicated, hard -working and committed farmers.