Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki

Chairman of South East Governors’ Forum (SEGF) and Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, has said that the zone would become hub of agriculture in the next couple of years following programmes executed by each of the five states.

In his remarks at the South East Farming Fiesta (SEFF 2018) in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital, with theme:  “Forging Sustainable Partnerships for Profitable Farming,” Umahi, who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Kelechi Igwe, said the South East  was determined to excel in agriculture.

“When any other sector fails, agriculture will not fail. With the best practices, it will not fail us,” he remarked.

Also emphasising on the South East resolve, Director of Media and Communications of SEGF, Chief Michael Udah, said the South East governors want to achieve  agricultural growth and productivity of different nature and, therefore, have initiated programmes to ensure this.

According to him,  last year’s  economic summit organised by SEGF secretariat, which put agriculture in the front burner, was one of the events to push this agenda.

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“Given the fact that the country is placing emphasis on agriculture and food security; and the fact that agriculture  boosted the Nigerian economy in the First Republic, before the discovery of oil, SEGF thought it wise to revisit this area of national and regional life. This is with a view to ensuring that we enhance the productivity to sustain ourselves and possibly export to other countries and earn foreign exchange.”

Outlining what each of the five South East states has done, he said Ebonyi State  has since commenced the implementation of its agricultural policies to ensure that food is available to its countrymen.

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The state has been rated high in the area of rice and cassava productions with several thousand metric tonnes per annum on rice alone. For this year, he said, Ebonyi was targeting 2 million metric tonnes of rice.

This was confirmed by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Emmanuel  Nwobo, who said Governor Umahi has developed key strategies targeted at boosting their agricultural productivity.

“Every part of the state, whether upland or lowland, must be cultivated this year. We are going to procure hundreds of thousands of new breed of rice, FARO 44, and other breeds of rice to be shared to farmers,” he said.

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In Anambra, the state Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, is blazing the trail in agriculture.

Commissioner for Agriculture in the state, Afam Mbanefo, revealed that the “massive  investment” made in the sector had started yielding fruits.

According to him, the government developed agriculture using a two-pronged approach: commercial production farming and small hold farming, adding that the government keyed into the opportunity provided by donor agencies, like International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), FADAMA, and the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers, among others as well as providing local farmers with agricultural inputs, machinery and others.

In Imo State, other than rice and cassava, Governor Rochas Okorocha has moved to resuscitate palm plantations, which the old Eastern Region was known for.

The immediate past commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, Ugochi Nnanna-Okoro, who was recently redeployed to the Ministry of Internally Generated Revenue and Pension Matters, said Okorocha had done so much in agriculture.