Gov Udom Emmanuel: Putting An End To Food Insufficiency
By Umoh-Obong Kingsley
Agriculture and food sufficiency are very critical in the wellbeing and socio-economic transformation of the people. In Akwa Ibom State, Agriculture engages over 70% of the state’s population with the capacity to catapult the state from consumption–oriented economy to a market–driven economy.
With the dwindling fortunes of petroleum globally, it became imperative for the state to nose-dive into massive agricultural production for increased food production towards sustainable development.
The administration of Deacon Gabriel Udom Emmanuel since assumption of office as Governor of Akwa Ibom State on May 29, 2015, has recorded significant milestones, making impactful contributions to the lives of the people across sectoral lines.
Governor Emmanuel has put the state on strong industrial footing through a well-thought out Five-point agenda of – Job Creation, Poverty Alleviation, Wealth Creation, Economic and Political inclusion, Infrastructural Consolidation and Expansion in which food sufficiency is inclusive.
It is worthy of note that Governor Udom Emmanuel is passionate about agriculture development and food sufficiency to all Akwa Ibom people, and enough left over for internal and external export .
The Governor is committed to ensuring that the state produces enough food to feed the people and that the prices of food stuff are affordable. To achieve this it re-introduced the second planting season for enhanced food production as well as the cultivation of 400 hectares of cassava multiplication farms across the three senatorial districts as well as cultivating 800 hectares of land for the planting of cassava under the FADAMA 3+ financial scheme.
It is of the essence on the Udom Emmanuel-led administration to see to the speedy legislation of the policy framework and subsequent implementation to ensure the Akwa Ibom State Agricultural Policy and Food Sufficiency Strategy meets its set objectives.
An inspection tour to the Cassava Small and Medium Scale Enterprise at Ikot Okudom in Okon Eket, witnessed the various modes of processing cassava to achieve best standard. The cassava, after crating, is stored for four days after which it is pulverised before frying which is carried out at two processes – mechanical and manual.
After frying, the particles are then taken out for sheaving in order to obtain a standard particle size of 1.5mm and then packaged into 5kg, 10kg and 25kg bags.
The Manager of the Processing Mill, Engr. Utueneikang Abasi Ekanen, disclosed that the factory has a capacity to process 5 tons of cassava a day subject to availability of raw materials. The raw materials are obtained from out-growers. “Our major supplier is that of Ikot Eyo farm which is the largest farm around. We also have another at Adia Nsit in Nsit Atai LGA. He said that the factory is open to all for commercial activities.”
In order to checkmate food safety and security, a medical test is conducted on every staff against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other health challenging issues before employed at the Processing Mill.
Cassava Small and Medium Scale Enterprise is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) between Akwa Ibom State Government and Larritas Associates Limited who is a partner of FADAMA project.
The Secretary of the State Technical Committee on Agriculture and Food Sufficiency, Pastor Sunny Ibuot, said that apart from the FADAMA project, sensitisation is ongoing to encourage other citizens to tap into the value change of the factory.
“It is a very laudable project. We are working hard to ensure that sources of supplies are established. We are also working towards achieving government’s intention for setting up the place which was for food sufficiency in the state, and then export it to the neighbouring states of the federation.
This is outside the numerous cassava out-grower farms across the state and those of cooperative societies. Governor Emmanuel has also taken a step further by also giving incentives to encourage cassava cultivation through subsidized cassava cuttings, cassava stem multiplication, fertilizers and extension services.
A staff at the cassava pilling section of the factory, Mrs Justina Akpan, an indigene of Onna LG, disclosed that workers are duly paid on a daily basis, which at the end of the month, their take home is far better than that of a civil servant.
This has reduced to its barest minimum, the unemployment rate in the state as 32 indigenes of the state have been gainfully employed in the cassava processing mill even as some expressed appreciation to the State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, for coming up with the factory which has enabled them do something and earn a living.
In addition to the numerous gains of the new strategy, the activities of out-growers have been promoted extensively, while emerging technologies in the world of agriculture have easily been transmitted to farmers through a robust extension service platform driven by a Public Private Partnership (PPP) module.