The time has come when a well-articulated agricultural policy should be implemented in Imo State to liberate the people from the scourge of poverty and the lingering underdevelopment now ravaging the state.
The policy, which will be tagged “Agricultural Revolution” should also include the opening up of the rural areas for vibrant economic activities that will improve the quality of lives of Imo people while bringing about sustainable growth in the state economy; the overall aim will be to empower the people economically while engendering socio-economic development of the state.
Nick Opara-Ndudu, a frontline governorship hopeful of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for Imo State gubernatorial election holding in 2019, made this submission, today, in his country home in Emekeukwu, Owerri North Local Government Area of the state, where he addressed the party supporters.
He said that agriculture is a springboard for economic revival of Imo State and that his government would be very active in the sector because of its numerous potentials.
Opara-Ndudu, who is an astute banker, believes strongly that if the rural areas were opened up through the provision of adequate road networks, the people in the countryside would be connected to the cities and allowed easy evacuation of agricultural produce just as farmers would be encouraged to increase production.
He also said that the provision of power, pipe-borne water, hospitals and recreational facilities in the rural areas will stem the menace of rural urban migration as youths will be encouraged to live in the villages and take agriculture as a profession.
The former commissioner, whose mentor is Chief Sam Mbakwe, late former governor of old Imo State, said if given the mandate in 2019, his government would encourage the return of cooperative farming and commodity board, the building of storage facilities and local processing of farm produce, adding that subsidies would be provided to farmers in the state.
He said he would revive all the moribund agricultural establishments in the state such as Avutu Poultry Farm in Obowu, Adapalm Plantation in Ohaji, and establish new ones, adding that instead of what obtained in the past, when the state government alone was involved, the arrangement would be Public Private Partnership (PPP). Companies, both local and foreign, willing to invest in agriculture in the state, would be encouraged to do so.
Agriculture, he said, has the potentials to transform Imo State ailing economy to a resilient one that will stand the test of time and put it on the path of sustainable growth and thereby reduce the government’s dependence on federal revenues, adding that all the government needs to do is to put its acts together.
Opara-Ndudu said that agriculture has a composite function in that it provides foods and employment to the people, serves as a source for raw materials, revenues, exports, among others, even as it will lay the strong foundation for industrialization of the state as exemplified by the economic Eldorado of the countries of South-East Asia and China.