Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square Awka was the venue of the public declaration by Governor Willie Obiano that his administration would against all odds ensure food sufficiency and also guarantee food security in Anambra state.
That was the day he officially flagged off the Dry Season Farming together with the disbursement of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s N2 billion agric loan to six thousand farmers for commercial agriculture.
In spite of the excruciating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, distractions from the ENDSARS protests as well as flood devastations this year, Governor Obiano extended a hand of Olive to farmers to enable them to commence cultivation again to guard against food insecurity in Anambra. That was a clear demonstration of his magnanimity and humane disposition to the food and nutritional needs of the citizenry.
Obiano told Ndi-Anambra on the occasion of the celebration of this year’s World Food Day that when his administration flagged off the first farming season under his watch in 2014 at Nteje Oyi local government area, he knew Anambra state took a giant stride into the future and that future of agricultural revolution seven years after are captured in an Agricultural Compendium which highlights the monumental achievements in the agric sector geared towards ensuring food sufficiency.
The governor said, “Our rice production has continued to rise from 80,000 metric tons in 2014 to an impressive 440,000 metric tons at the moment. We have seen the revolution of Anambra Rice as well as the entry of Anambra Palm Produce into the export market.
“We are also exporting fresh and dry vegetables, yams, snails and others to the United Kingdom and United States of America.”
Efforts to ensure consistency in the food supply chain of the state is also evident in the governor’s profound gratitude to the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for critical interventions in the agricultural sector. Anambra State is to benefit from the World Assisted Project for COVID-19 Action Recovery Plan; a plan that aims at ensuring food security and also preserve food supply chain.
Indeed Anambra state strives towards food sufficiency as the governor assured farmers that the flag-off of the dry season farming and distribution of farm implements to farmers would ultimately go a long way in preserving the food supply chain as the world is set for a more globally accepted vaccine for COVID-19. A new paradigm of agricultural economy which primarily aims at increasing chances of survival of the people has been entrenched in the state and that the state has proven that it can develop new capacities and expand the frontiers of development under a determined and visionary leadership. The governor noted that the revolution in agriculture has not only guaranteed food security but has also reduced unemployment drastically.
He said that the CBN’s agric loan would help to boost agriculture especially as farmers embark on dry season farming to cushion effects of flood devastations in Ogbaru, Anambra-West, Ayamelum, Ihiala, Awka-North, Anambra-East and many other locations in the state, adding that women farmers would get 60% of the CBN agric loan while their male counterparts settle with 40%.
Nnamdi Onukwuba, the state commmissioner for agriculture opined that food sufficiency was the focal point of all the innovations in the agric sector. He said the governor has ensured food security through various aids given to farmers in the state; that the governor is sustaining food security through the dry season farming to cater for the lull created by the dry season . He enjoined farmer cooperatives that benefitted from the CBN agric loan to apply them judiciously and that the dry season farming is intended for those affected by the flood; saying that they would be given cassava stems, rice seeds, highly subsidized fertilizers and some other implements free of charge. The commmissioner also disclosed that tractorisation would be provided for farmers at very reduced rates to ensure they key into the overall objective of ensuring food security in the state.
Meanwhile, the House of Assembly Committee Chairman on Agriculture, Hon. John Nwokoye, who listened with avid attentiveness to the governor’s assurances to farmers, said the disbursement of the CBN agric credit facilities to farmer cooperatives was a veritable means of ensuring food security in Anambra state. Nwokoye explained that his constituency Awka-North was not left out in the CBN largese as about six farmer cooperatives from the area benefitted largely. He commended the governor, saying that he didn’t discriminate against anyone during the disbursement of the CBN loan to farmers. He also recalled that shortly after the COVID-19 lockdown, the governor intervened in agriculture; he said what it implies is that the effects of COVID-19 would not be felt in 2021 even as he also observed that the governor has scaled up rice production from 80,000 metric tons to 440,000 metric tons which he believes guarantees food security for the state.
Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Rojenny Games Village Oba Idemili-South local government area of Anambra state also extolled Governor Willie Obiano’s plan to ensure that Anambra citizens didn’t suffer food shortage. Ezeonwuka noted that more rice mills were opening in Anambra state and that while the state thrived in rice production, rice mills in Thailand were closing up. He said Anambra was no longer importing rice because the boom in rice production is quite commendable. He was cognisant of the fact that Anambra has succeeded also in poultry and fish production respectively.
Judging from the foregoing, it is crystal clear that the agricultural programmes of the Anambra State Government has indeed sustained efforts to ensure availability of food for local consumption and export. To this end, Egbue Chukwuka Patrick the State Coordinator FADAMA Project for Anambra state, said the state has recorded the highest in the repayment of CBN loans which is the primary reason it always benefited from it. Egbue said five irrigation centres have been built at Ogboji, Egwuagwa, Ifiteogwuari and Ihiala and that another agric programme called COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus is coming into the state; saying that it is a World Bank cum Federal Governnent Assisted Project together with the Governor’s Forum designed to assist the poor negatively impacted by COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, IFAD contingent led by Mr. Emmanuel Agwuncha who was represented by Chika Obiemeka, said that the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is also assisting the Anambra State Government to ensure food security through staple foods like cassava and rice. Obiemeka said that IFAD distributed COVID-19 palliatives like seeds, fertilizers and other implements to farmers in Anambra to ensure that there is no food scarcity next year and other subsequent years even as they also acknowledged that the state government paid its counterpart funding for IFAD Food Value Chain, all to ensure sustenability of food security in Anambra state and to avert hunger pandemics.