Why A’Ibom is prioritizing investment in Agriculture – Dr Offor

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By Ogenyi Ogenyi,Uyo

Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Developement, Dr Offiong Offor has said that the state government’s investment in agriculture is meant to guarantee a prosperous and healthy future for the people of the state.

She has also said that government’s Local Government’s plantation project could go beyond 10,000 hectares in the next four years with commitment from stakeholders especially young farmers.

Offor who made this known in an interview with newsmen last weekend in Uyo maintained that the state government’s policy on agriculture was not only meant to increase food production,create and expand employment opportunities especially for young people but also meant to delibrately divest the state economy from over reliance on oil.

The commissioner insisted that the mentality and orientation of people towards agriculture also needed to change if any meaningful progress could be made in the drive to revolutionarize agriculture and make it attractive to people, especially the youths.

“This is important because for instance in the West, the 3% of people engaged in farming there see themselves as top shots but in Africa and in this part of the world we are not proud of what we do as farmers. So we need to change the narratives.

“Times are evolving and changing and we need to move away gradually from reliance from crude.
Now we have electric cars that do not use petrol but you can never have electric food. Food is food especially in Africa the way God made it and it will always be so.

“So we need to understand that the primary duty of man is agriculture and that is what God primarily gave man as a blessing and what you eat determines how you live. If you eat well, you go less to hospital. So we need to sustain that in the minds of the people.

“Farming is not something derogatory but something everyone of us who have farms should be proud of. Grow something at whatever level it is. Be involved along the value chain.” She explained.

Offor said that Governor Umo Eno’s trip to the famed Songhai Farms in Benin Republic was an eye opener and would assist the state government in adapting to it’s own model in it’s agricultural revolution drive.

She explained that cassava which is the major crop to be used for the plantation project would not pose much storage and preservation challenges as much produced would be consumed and sold easily.

On projections for the future on the LG Plantation programme, she said that, “we are going to have more and people are willing to offer more land. For instance we set up a plantation in a location in this state and another community came up and said we are giving you 200 hectares because they have seen some of the other people benefit and make more incomes.

“So people buy into it. It will not just be limited to 100 hectares per Local Government, some LGs are willing to double the 100 hectares even now and you can imagine what it will be in the future.”

She further explained that large scale mechanized farming in the state is being hampared by land fragmentation and ownership issues while the cost of land preparation remained high due to the topography and climatic conditions of the state’s location.

On fears expressed over land grabbing challenges, Offor explained that land for the project were and would be donated by individuals and communities voluntarily while they could also withdraw their land from the project if they wish.

On food sufficiency, the commissioner explained that the drive is a work in progress and could be possible with active participation and committment from stakeholders especially the youths.


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