By Cosmas Omegoh
Rather than sit back to bemoan their fate, indigenes of Ihiala in Anambra State have taken a bold initiative aimed at improving the lot of people of the area.
Members of the community in Lagos, under the aegis of Ihiala Progress Union (IPU), recently rolled out a novelty which they said was geared at creating employment for their people and boosting agricultural production.
The initiative was part of the package the group unfolded when it launched its N100 Integrated Agro Development Farm Project in Lagos and inaugurated its newly elected executive members. It said that it was working in close collaboration with Anambra State government to realise its agriculture revolution goal.
At the event, which held at Ihiala House, Odofin Park Estate, under the chairmanship of Mr Edwin Enwegbara, friends and well wishers of IPU gathered to raise funds to jumpstart the project. Many dignitaries from Ihiala were in attendance to support the effort which they described as novel, with some including a governorship aspirant in the November 2017 Anambra State governorship election, Obinna Uzor, sending representatives.
Taking the gathering through a well-thought out plan, the President of IPU, Mr Obika Ohanusi, described the effort as a road map towards economic emancipation of many at the lower rung of the ladder.
“We see agriculture as a major infrastructure to achieve sustainable economic freedom for our union and its members. With our talented experts, we had to marshal out a formidable plan for food security, poverty eradication and human capital development of our people here in Lagos and at home.
“In order to achieve this, we approached Anambra State government which magnanimously approved for a start, 60 acres of land for the project.
“Now, we are embarking on an all-season rice farming, cassava farming, vegetable farming, piggery, poultry and goat rearing. We are also establishing a rice mill and two garri-processing units.”
He said the project would be modelled after the Israeli revolutionary agric programme Kibbutz. He hoped that the processing units would employ no fewer than 30 people for a start, noting that IPU was already collaborating with other relevant agricultural agencies such as FADAMA.
Ohanusi expressed optimism that when the state government saw the progress so far recorded, it would triple the land currently allocated for the project since IPU’s initiative was clearly in tandem with the state government’s food security and job creation programme. He said that any community that took agriculture seriously would surely get state government’s look in.
He told the correspondent that IPU was working on establishing French and Chinese languages classes and a functional business centre at its Lagos secretariats to generate income for the community, just as the body was launching a medical outreach programme that would take care of its members and people back at home.
Speaking through his representative, the chairman of the occasion, Mr Enwegbara, told the audience that with emphasis now on food sufficiency, any community that embarked on aggressive agricultural production would not suffer.
“Everywhere in the world now, agriculture is taking the centre stage. Any community or country which cannot grow its own food these days is lazy; you can see what China is doing in this regard at the moment.”
A guest at the event, Prof Chibuzor Ilogu, of University of Lagos, (Unilag), applauded the effort of Ihiala people and urged the leadership of the community to remain focused on its set plans.
Among other guests who sent in their representatives and made donations on the occasion was Chuma Nzeribe.