Food Sufficiency, A New Critical Infrastructure in Akwa IbomFriday, May 8th, 2020 | News
– Essien Ndueso-
There is something magical about great and successful leaders. They are often guided by divine intuition to build a safe abode ahead of rainy days. When the rains finally come, the people will hardly feel the adverse effects.
This is the beautiful story that decorates the fertile agricultural sector that has germinated and grown the boom of food sufficiency in Akwa Ibom State.
A man with rare foresight and unprecedented creativity, Governor Udom Emmanuel, on assumption of office caused a cherished revolution in the agric sector.
He began at the beginning when he said that he was building economic roads that will link the rural base of the state with the urban centers. This necessitated the opening up of all the hinterlands with the mission of creating access to the rich agricultural prospects across Akwa Ibom State. This redeeming wind blew across various local government areas such as Ini, Obot Akara, Uruan, Oron and others. Such critical opening up preceded and gave rise to flourish and boom in agricultural activities in those areas.
Barely a few weeks in the saddle in 2015, Governor Udom Emmanuel had set up a Technical Committee on Agriculture and Food Sufficiency, comprising indigenous egg heads in the agriculture sector to coordinate the Agricultural renaissance and diversify the economy of the state. His vision was to ensure that Akwa Ibom is able to produce at least 80 percent of food it consumes.
He facilitated the acquisition of new improved seedlings of cocoa, maize and rice as well as fast tracked plantain and cassava production. Cocoa production received a special attention through the training of farmers on modern skills to embark on a cocoa maintenance scheme. This initiative ripened the successes and prosperity in cocoa production.
The governor’s definition of Agriculture in Akwa Ibom State has a touch of the professionals. It goes beyond cultivating the soil for the purpose of crops for man’s use. Governor Udom Emmanuel adds that it also involves tending of livestock and poultry farming. This informed the completion of an ultra modern world class hatchery for day old chicks at Mbiaya Uruan, and introduction of a poultry outgrowers scheme to encourage more poultry farming in the state and make for easier off-taking of the product to ease the stress of marketing. This is gradually making the state, the poultry capital of the South South region.
He has equally upped the ante of storage and processing of agricultural products to add value to the efforts of rural farmers.
There are various cassava processing mills in the State; a grinding that is directly responsible for the crashing of the price of garri, and further attestation to the food sufficiency praxis of the State.
Another staple food in Akwa Ibom State is Rice, and indeed there also has been a rising profile in rice production. With rice mills strategically located in the State as the Ibom Agricon Rice Mill which was commissioned by the Governor in December 2018 at Ini Local Government Area, and yet another one privately established at Itak in Ikono which produces 350 tonnes of the finished product daily, there is an abundance of the commodity for the people.
The wind of industrialization has blown refreshingly across agriculture. This is evident in the fertilizer blending plant to meet the needs of the local farmers. The fertilizer blending plant does not walk alone on the lane of industrialization brightened by agriculture. The five hundred metric tonnes daily capacity flour mill is conspicuous as a cynosure of agricultural strides.
The vision of Governor Udom Emmanuel in the agricultural sector has passed a critical litmus test of recent. During the most turbulent time of the Coronavirus that ravaged the world, with Nigeria having a taste of the chunk, Akwa Ibom State flew on the wings of agricultural planning. When there were no interstate movements, or the difficulty of, the food sufficiency vision of the State came to roost. The flour mill and rice mill in the State became Joseph’s food pyramids recorded in Egypt that saved the people.
The vision of the Governor in stimulating the local economy and encouraging small and medium scale enterprises, prompted him to commence a 3bn naira revolving loan facility which means that traders, small businesses’ owners and cooperative groups are exposed to an interest free loan ranging from 100,000 to 10million naira. Tens of thousands of traders can comfortably link the boost in their businesses to this visionary steps. The Governor has embarked on changing the story of market places in the State, with new markets replacing old dilapidated structures and icing all these with the ongoing ultra modern market in Eket which replaces the old Urua Nka.
The governor believes that the power sector is germane to the success of agricultural transformation in the State. Thus the revolution in the power sector, including the establishment of several power substations across the State has significantly reduced overhead cost in the production process of the food processing and other allied industries.
Akwa Ibom State is a flagship in agriculture whether in cultivation of the soil for man’s use, tending of livestock, storage and processing of agricultural products or distribution and marketing of agricultural products. Governor Udom Emmanuel is leadings green revolution through well thought out fertilized agricultural policies and programmes. Governor Udom Emmanuel believes that for Akwa Ibom State to achieve food sufficiency, there must be more tractors in the farms than luxury SUVs in the streets. This is the secret of bumper harvest in the agricultural sector that is witnessed in the State presently.
It is all-together, a leadership of fertile innovation and creativity in agriculture, where Governor Udom Emmanuel remains the farmer-in-chief. It is a flourishing experience in the State, in and out of season.