Agriculture plays a crucial role in the economy of developing countries, and provides the main source of food, income and employment to their populations.
Beyond providing an expanding market for the products of the other sectors in the initial stages of development of the economy, agriculture helps in the development of other sectors.
Governor Udom Emmanuel, upon assumption of office in 2015, made robust promises regarding the agricultural sector of Akwa Ibom State. This is even as he noted the fertility of the state’s soil, its numerous untapped potentials and the prospects it could hold for food sufficiency, investments and foreign exchange.
The State Boss thus swung into action and has gradually changed the state from being civil-service and politically driven to being agric-oriented.
A look at the state today, compared to what was obtainable in the past shows a place where commercial and subsistent agriculture thrives robustly.
The Udom Emmanuel’s administration has brought to existence (through the collaboration with Skye Bank (now Polaris Bank) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Anchor Borrowers Scheme) Cassava farmers and mobilization of 5,000 farmers for the scheme, as well as creation of 15,000 jobs (downstream) and about 45,000 jobs (upstream) through value addition; Cat fish farmers and mobilization of 2, 000 cat fish farmers for the scheme as well as creation of 6,000 jobs (downstream) and 18, 000 (upstream) through value addition and the training of enumerators on the use of modern electronic gadgets for data capturing and field mapping under the RIFAN/CBN and the Akwa Ibom State Rice Anchor Borrowers Scheme.
So far, 120 Hectares of rice farm have been cultivated in Ibiono Ibom local government area and 33 processing sheds and assets constructed under FADAMA III + AF programme for the farmers.
Just last month, the first harvest of the Ibom Golden Rice cultivated, milled and packaged in the area was presented to the public.
The Chairman of Ibiono Ibom, Rt Hon. Ekomabasi Akpan had at the occasion said that the rice farmers association (RIFAN) in the area “have cultivated two thousand, two hundred hectares of farmland” and are ready to produce more.
Also, 241 Cooperative Groups on agriculture have been formed to open more channels of communication between the farmers and the government.
In a bid to take-off unemployed youths off the streets, 300 Participants trained under Graduate Unemployed Youths/Women Support Scheme (FADAMA GUYS) were trained and given grants in the tune of N95,384,000 to 249 beneficiaries.
The present administration has also been instrumental in the construction of Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprise (AEHE) Centre at Awa Iman, Onna L.G.A; Ploughing and Ridging of 130 hectares by AEHE; Acquisition of Tractors with Accessories and 14 Implements; Harvesting of 330 Hectares of Cassava cultivated; Upgrading of hatchery at Mbiaya Uruan and Development of breeder farms; Successful training of 10 Akwa Ibom State Animal Scientists on Goat Multiplication and Insemination Programme in South Africa, and the Cultivation of paddocks and perimeter fencing at the Goat Multiplication Centre in Ikot Itie Udung, Nsit Atai LGA.
Moreso, 33 processing Boreholes and Reticulation have been completed across the state, 1 Borehole and Reticulation completed for Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprise (AEHE), Hosting and Training of Farmers (Training of Trainers, ToT) on Vegetable Production, as well as partnership with Ibom Agricon Rice for the production of Ibom Family Rice in Ini LGA.
Furthermore, 10 hectares of land have been dedicated to the cultivation of vegetables like tomato at Ekeya, Okobo LGA.
One of Governor Emmanuel’s biggest agricultural renaissance story is the Green House Farm which has today birthed the indigenous production of tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, lettuce and other crops to aid food sufficiency in the state.
It was for this laudable initiative that the former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo noted at his recent visit that the state is making landmark achievements in agricultural production and that if such projects are multiplied across the country, Nigeria would have an edge in food production rather than depend on importation from other countries.
The former president who is a renowned farmer said agriculture as an alternative source of revenue for states should be encouraged, while calling on other state governors to emulate the initiatives of Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Obasanjo gave the commendation after his brief stopover at the Green House Farm along Victor Attah International Airport, Uyo, during his visit to the state for the burial of former Secretary to the Government of the federation, late Chief Ufot Ekaette.
Notably, the Green House will be replicated in the 31 local government areas of the state to ensure even production and sufficiency of the vegetable crops.
In his zest to ensure that all hands are brought to the fore of agriculture, the State Governor has introduced School Farm Reviving Campaign across the State.
Speaking at the unveiling of the Ibom Golden Rice in Ibiono, the State Commissioner for Agriculture and Women Development, Dr. Glory Edet announced that the State government had concluded plans to plant coconut across public schools in the State to further boost agriculture. This is to crave the indulgence of the young scholars on the Akwa Ibom’s agricultural project.
Meanwhile, a 10-metric-tons Cocoa Fermentation and Drying Plant has been built in Ananammong, Ini LGA, with an MoU signed with Contec Global for the cultivation of improved variety of Banana for export on 2,000 hectares of land and the establishment of 300 hectares Bio Safe (Organic) Agricultural Hub.
Apart from making these opportunities available, the State Governor has created an enabling environment for Small Scale Farmers/Farming to thrive.
Farmers across the length and breadth of the state can boast of a conducive environment given to them for their operations by the state government.
With these and more on the count, the Governor has established his integrity as a promise keeper, visionary leader and problem solver.
…Udom is working!