By Emmanuel Una
WORRIED by the dwindling number of farmers and the continued sticking to traditional farming practices by those still in the ‘field’, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, Senate Leader, demonstrated his passion for farming by organising an outreach for famers in his senatorial district.
The outreach engaged agricultural experts from the University of Calabar to educate the teeming crowd of farmers on how to acquire modern farming techniques and also guide them through processes for accessing loans and grants from finance houses and the Ministry of Agriculture to ease the stress associated with old farming practices and maximise their productivity.
The farmers, with rapt attention, listened to the resource persons, led by Professor Ndifon, a lecturer in the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Calabar, as they were taken on a step-by-step approach on how to apply farm inputs like organic and inorganic fertlisers, pesticides and herbicides which make farming less strenuous yet guarantees good harvest.
Born and bred in Akparabong, a cocoa producing community in Ikom, Central Senatorial District of Cross River State, where farming is the predominant occupation, Ndoma-Egba, even as his father rode to become an Appeal Court judge, was a farm boy who actively engaged in the age old trade by joining his siblings in the farm settlement and this passion has remained in him.
The outreach assembled farmers from the six local government areas of the district: Obubra, Boki, Etung, Yakkur, Abi and Ikom. In addition to inculcating in them modern farming knowledge, they were given farm inputs like rice and yam seedlings as well as herbicides and pesticides free
During the outreach, the Senate Leader also donated agricultural inputs and improved seedlings for onward distribution to thousands of other farmers in the six local government areas of his senatorial district.
The items worth several millions of naira, Ndoma Egba told Sunday Vanguard are for the first phase of the farmers empowerment which would be a continuous exercise to enable the farmers build capacity to produce more food to boost their income.
“The Central Senatorial District is a multi-purpose farming zone with quite a good number of agricultural products produced here and to make the farmers produce more we have to strengthen their effort”, he stated.
The Senate Leader expressed satisfaction with the result achieved by the programme, especially the enthusiasm shown by farmers who turned up in their thousands at the Ikom Council Hall and remained seated for several hours to receive the knowledge in order to imbibe new farming skills. Ndoma-Egba assured that the exercise was a pilot project whose frequency will be increased with more agricultural inputs and seedlings distributed to the farmers.
Expressing immense gratitude to the Senate Leader, the Chairman of Ikom Local Government Council, Mr Ayiba Ayiba Ojong, said the farmers outreach programme and the items distributed to the farmers will go a long way ensuring that the farmers plant more crops this planting season and boost their harvest.
The Paramount Ruler of Ikom, Ntulem Peter Njul Eku, appealed to Ndoma-Egba and Cross River State governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, to assist farmers in the senatorial district by establishing rice and cocoa processing mills to enable farmers add value to their produce before taking them to the market to ensure adequate pricing.