By Anozie Egole
ABAKALIKI—The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, on Monday flagged off Governor David Umahi administration’s one-man, one hectare agricultural programme in the state.
The occasion which was witnessed by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, was kick-started with the planting of palm trees at Ezillo Farm and a symbolic tree of peace at Ishielu Local Government Area headquarters. The symbolic tree was to commemorate a peace agreement between Ezillo and Ezza-Ezillo.
Speaking at the Abakaliki Township Stadium where thousands of women and youths had gathered to witness the grand finale of the events, Ogbeh pledged Federal Government’s support to Ebonyi State in its agricultural programme.
He said: “We are going to bring machinery here. We hope that before we round up,there will be a major industrial starch plant in this state. We also believe that we will let you have some cassava flour processing plants,especially for cassava, fufu. We shall bring you another crop,cashew nut, because the demand for cashew nut in the international market is high. You are famous for rice production,but you are going to be more famous when we bring our programme for implementation.
“Today, I assure you that we shall join hands with you to make your rice production plan work. We shall make sure you get the best seed,especially,the F.44. It is about the national standard we have because in Nigeria today, there are over 70 varieties of rice. We cannot grow all.”
The minister, who also promised to bring rice harvesters and threshers to Ebonyi State,commended Governor Umahi for the robust agricultural programme,especially the one-man, one-hectare policy.
Challenging politicians and civil servants to have a second address in agriculyure, he said that poverty in the country was not acceptable.
He explained that there was hunger in the country today because Nigerians had been lazy in the past by focussing on oil and importation of everything, including toothpicks.
“What your governor is doing is going to be strongly supported by us. We shall support you with good seeds. And before the year runs out,before the rice harvest,we shall bring in small machines to help you harvest your rice. And for those of you civil servants,politicians and so on going to agriculture,please,take it a business seriously,” a statement by Umahi’s Chief Press Secretary Emma Anya quoted the minister as saying.
Ogbeh, who in company with Umahi, later gave out a symbolic cheque to one of the beneficiaries of the state’s youth and women empowerment programme, told the youth that the governor, had by his actions “handed over the key to prosperity” to them.
Umahi had in his opening remarks explained that the agricultural programme was aimed at ensuring food security for the state and the country. He said his administration had among others, procured 40 tractors,distributed farm seedlings and gotten soft loans for genuine farmers in the state.