By Chinelo Nwangene
Anambra state Governor, Willie Obiano has announced plans by the state government to launch series of agricultural reform programmes aimed at increasing food production in the state.
Governor Obiano announced the new agricultural initiatives while flagging off the 2019 edition of the Anambra State Farming Season on Tuesday at the Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka.
According to the governor, while the state has witnessed some setbacks in the last farming season, official statistics showed a steady rise in food productivity. He stressed that his administration was determined to invest more towards scaling up agricultural production in the state. As a result of that, he announced a new set of initiatives that would take off soon.
“We shall distribute inputs to small scale farmers. Next, we shall launch the Anambra Farmers Shop Initiative and flag of the Apiculture or Honey Bee Farming Programme and then finally, we shall launch the Smart Weather Soldiers Initiative as well as the Youths in Agriculture programme.
“We are also re-introducing the ‘Ugbo Umu-akwukwo’ or School Farm programme into primary and secondary schools to inculcate agricultural skills early in our school children. The produce from the School Farm initiative shall be shared between the students and teachers and re-investment in more seeds.
Governor Obiano, recalled the challenges faced by Anambra farmers during the 2018 planting season. “Almost the entire agricultural belt of the state was totally submerged in the heavy flooding that swept across the coastal areas; swallowing houses and farmlands and rendering so many people homeless. The scale of the havoc wrecked by the flood was so much that it forced the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osibanjo to physically visit and sympathize with the displaced people in the affected areas.
He also drew attention to the impact of the herdsmen, farmers clashes on the agricultural sector. “The outgone season also witnessed clashes between the herdsmen and farmers. Although Anambra was not one of the major flash-points of the lingering conflict, the shadow of violence and death unleashed by these clashes had a demoralizing effect on farmers nationwide. All these had severe impact on farming during the season under review and drastically affected the realization of the projected production output for the season.
According to the governor, despite the setbacks, the state recorded impressive output in agricultural production. “The performance indicators are all impressive. For instance, the records show that rice production in our dear state has been on a steady increase, rising from 80,000 metric tons in 2014 when I was sworn in to 440,000 metric tons in 2018. Our projection for this planting season is to produce 475,547 metric tons of rice. Similarly, Cassava production rose from 15,324 metric tons when I stepped in to 1,236,409 metric tons in 2018. Now we are projecting a cassava output of 2,060, 682 metric tons in 2019.
“The same thing applies to vegetables where we projected 96,480 metric tons last season but this season we are projecting 321,600 metric tons. Our projection for yam this year is 83,600 metric tons. All these are clear indications that our vision to place Anambra State in the Top-3 of agricultural production in Nigeria is firmly on course.
By Chinelo Nwangene