An Address presented by the Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano, to mark the flag off of the 2019 Farming Season on July 2, 2019.
Ndi Anambra ekenem unu,
We are here today to launch the 2019 Farming Season. We are also here to cast a long look at the last Farming Season and see how far we have come on our quest for self-sufficiency in food production and export.
Ladies and gentlemen, when we flagged off the 2018 Farming Season, we did it with a lot of enthusiasm and belief that we were charting the right course for Ndi Anambra. But we also flagged the last Farming Season off with a strong faith in God who gives the increase. It was in view of this that we launched the 2018 Farming Season under the theme; “Developing Modern Agriculture through Cluster Farming Sustainability.” Now, we seek to consolidate on the achievements of the last season under the theme; “Cluster development: A Vehicle for Sustainable Agriculture.”
This theme was chosen in view of the widely accepted belief that the development of Cluster Farms is one of the most sustainable ways to practice agriculture. When farms that share a common focus area come together in clusters, it becomes easier to share many things together. Cluster Farms can easily share group marketing, access to finance and the advantages of the economics of scale. This will lead to the emergence of Farm Hubs.
A Review of the Last Farming Season
Umu nnem, the outgone Farming Season was a particularly difficult one for Ndi olu ugbo na Anambra State. 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. We remain grateful to Mr President for identifying with Anambra State in the hour of need and sending Vice President Osibanjo to evaluate the damage done to the affected areas. 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.
On the positive side, I am delighted to announce that in spite of the obvious challenges in the last farming season, we recorded some heart-warming performances. 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. Maize production stood at 22,000 metric last season and we are projecting an output of 63, 255 metric tons of maize for this season. 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.
What we shall do in this Farming Season
Ndi Anambra, to flag off this Farming Season, we shall do a few important things today. First, 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.
Ndi Anambra, we have a lot to look forward to this year. The small holder farmers who constitute about 70% of the farming population will enjoy the robust support of my administration this year. Our partnership with Donor Agencies has led to the building of irrigation projects in the major rice plains like Ayamelum, Ogbaru, Orumba and Ihiala. Again, rising from the heavy flooding we experienced last year, we are better prepared for such eventualities this year. Although we have been assured that rainfall will be slightly below its normal range this year, we shall not take chances with nature. We are in partnership with NEMA and SEMA for the effective distribution of weather monitoring devices in the 7 local government areas that were devastated by flood last year.
Ndi Anambra, we have concluded plans to secure the N1.5 billion Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS) loan which the Central Bank of Nigeria gives to Anchor Borrowers. The loan will be used in the development of Cluster Farms and the Strategic Land Reservation Scheme that I launched in 2018. Under this programme, Land will be allocated to our youths and inputs disbursed for them to farm and earn income. To kick-start this initiative, I have approved the sum of N300,000,000 for disbursement to farmers only. The funds are warehoused with the Anambra State Small Business Agency (ASBA). It is my hope to this initiative will stimulate more activities in the Export Window of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Indeed, our Export Programme is going very well. Our collaboration with off-takers like GRAFIL who has developed a huge window in the US market for yams, vegetables and snails from Anambra is exemplary in this regard. Other highly reputable Anambra brands like Tiger Foods and Kizno Agro Foods are also making inroads in the West African market. We are also finalizing discussions with some off-takers that will export dried fruits to Germany.
Ndi Anambra, this administration will continue to integrate the youths in every meaningful economic programme that will give them a competitive edge in the marketplace. As a result of this, the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Ministry of Youths Empowerment and Creative Economy will launch a robust programme called “Youths in Agriculture “to create further awareness for youths to be integrated into our Agricultural Development Programmes. We have also established the Fisheries and Aquaculture Business Development Agency FABDA to properly organize and stimulate commercial fish farming in Anambra State. This agency has set its sights on producing 250,000 kilograms of fish per month. This will make fishes more available at dining tables. The agency also plans to set up Fish Business Villages in the three Senatorial Zones of the state. This will create many jobs across the state and take more youths off the streets.
To stay ahead of our closest rivals, we shall take training and exposure to best practices seriously this year. We shall create opportunities for our farmers and agricultural officers to learn some of the best-in-class agricultural practices that are leading to greater yield and a happier society in other parts of the world.
Ndi Anambra, after five years of intense focus on Agriculture, we have seen the rise of Anambra Rice, the big, mechanized farms in Anambra North and South, the rise of the agricultural export trade and the boom in the agricultural business in the state.
We have seen enough reason to get involved in Agriculture.
Join the moving train.
It is on this note that I flag this year’s Farming Season off!
Chief Willie Obiano
Governor, Anambra State.
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