Ndi b’anyi ekenem unu
We are gathered here today to launch this year’s farming season. This is the fifth farming season under my watch and the most important one for obvious reasons. The first reason is that this is the first farming season since I began my second term in office. Many people look forward to a very impressive start to my second term because to whom much is given, much is expected.
The second reason is that, after four intensive years of recording excellent results in Agriculture, Ndi Anambra have become used to success. So, we cannot afford to let Ndi Anambra down. Never! So, our next performance must be better than our last effort.
Ndi b’ anyi, I personally believe that the farm of the future must fulfill three important promises – It must feed the people, it must protect the environment and it must offer a healthy return on investment. The theme of this year’s planting season was carefully selected to drive the fulfillment of these promises. The theme is “Developing Modern Agriculture through Cluster Farming Sustainability.” Under this theme, our approach is to mechanize agriculture and encourage the production of Target-Crops for backward integration and stimulate Agro- business and investment in the sector.
Cluster Farming is a tool for bringing farmers who share a common focus area together to ensure that they benefit from inputs like group marketing, access to finance, and economics of scale. Therefore, it is a tool that can help smallholder farmers to reduce the risks associated with the business side of agriculture. It leads to the emergence of FARM HUBS which makes it easier to empower famers to adopt a more results-oriented model of growing food in a professional, standardized and controlled pattern. Cluster Farming therefore makes facilitates the creation national and international linkages and collaborations between farmers and the markets they serve, investors and both financial and research institutes.
Overview of the Last Farming Season
Major performance indicators point to a positive growth in our performance in the Agricultural sector in the last planting season. For instance, our efforts to make more people embrace farming yielded an impressive result in the outgone year. Over three thousand farmers were duly registered to bring the number from 106,000 in 2016 to 109, 137 farmers in the outgone planting season. Similarly, we recorded an increase in the number of cooperatives from 2285 in 2016 to 2401 in the 2017 planting season. Rice production rose from 244,235 metric tons in 2016 to 345,000 metric tons in 2017. Cassava production shot up from 1,792,596 in 2016 to 1,881,000 metric tons in 2017 while Maize production increased from 39,902 to 43,521 metric tons in the last planting season. Land utilization also increased in the period under review and stood at 49,000 hectares due to the influx of more people into agriculture.
Quite naturally, our projections for the last planting season were adversely affected by a number of factors. We had very little access to agricultural funds and farmers who took available loans did not show enough enthusiasm to repay those loans and open access to more intending borrowers. Farming also took a severe blow from climate change which has remained a major threat to agriculture through the years. It must also be stated that while Anambra did not suffer a major clash between farmers and herdsmen in the last planting season, their growing menace across the country remained a source of anxiety everywhere. We are counting on the federal government to find a quick solution to the threat that the roaming herdsmen poses to quest for a diversified economy and greater food sufficiency in the country.
2018 in Focus
Ndi Anambra, when I look at trends in our national economy, I feel justified in my decision to make Agriculture the number one pillar of my economic blueprint. Agriculture is becoming increasingly important in Nigeria and we must continue to push ourselves harder to surpass the targets we have set for ourselves in the sector.
It is in pursuit of this that we have set our sights on deepening our efforts to mechanize agriculture in the state. We have made adequate arrangements to provide more access to capital intensive farm machineries like tractors and other equipment to our farmers. This will enable us meet our target of cultivating 25,000 hectares of land in this farming season.
To achieve this, we have finalized plans to invest the sum of N1.5bn in Land Development, N2bn in providing infrastructure and N600m in procuring agricultural inputs and machineries this planting season. Consequently, we plan to grow our cooperatives from 2401 to 2836 in 2018. The same projection applies to our rice production which we hope to increase from 345,000 to 440,000 metric tons in this planting season. We also plan to increase Cassava production from 1,881,000 to 2,060,687 metric tons and Maize from 43,521 to 55,000 metric tons. We have also set targets for Vegetables at 160,000 metric tons, Yam at 70,000 metric tons and finally, Fish at 55,000 metric tons.
Ladies and gentlemen, this year too, I am delighted to introduce a Mobile Application for Agric Extension and Farmer Information Management System. We shall also issue a proper Farmer’s ID Card to duly registered farmers. In addition, we shall hand out cheques, motorbikes and other farm inputs to beneficiaries. I have no doubt that these gestures will boost the morale of our farmers and encourage productivity. We have also evolved a comprehensive 4-year Development Plan for different agricultural produce and farm types. This strategy will help us in increasing productivity, land utilization as well as encourage the best practices that will lead to increased yield.
Building on the Advantage
Our dear state has continued to increase our advantage in the agricultural sector and we shall not relent. We have turned Anambra Rice into a coveted brand in the Nigerian market and successfully introduced Anambra Vegetables into the export market. We have also taken a few steps further to brand Anambra Honey, Anambra Garri and Anambra Cassava. I urge you all to key into this movement and develop these brands.
I wish to emphasize here that my administration maintains cordial relations with Donor Agencies by ensuring a prompt payment of counterpart funds to enable the state benefit from more Donor assisted projects.
At the same time, we have plans to access the N3.5 billion CBN facility for Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACs) and Accelerated Agricultural development Scheme (AADS. We are currently developing other agricultural schemes with NIRSAL to ensure that the set targets on rice, cassava and fish value chain are achieved.
In conclusion, I wish to observe that under my watch, Anambra State has established the fundamentals for a big agro-economy. We have created the enabling environment and attracted quality investments to pave the way for more investors. However, it takes a determined citizenry to sustain a vision of development. I have no doubts that Ndi Anambra will rise to the occasion by coming into agriculture in a much bigger way to help us sustain the momentum we have built in this sector. My administration has proven its capacity to make things happen. Ndi Anambra, the ball is now in your court.
It is on this note that I hereby declare the 2018 Planting Season open!
Chief Willie Obiano