From the strategic roads construction across the state, to the aggressive agricultural investments, massive promotion of Made-in-Aba products cum industrialisation policies ; Abia State Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Uzo Azubuike, recently revealed the secret mission of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’ administration. APPOLOS CHRISTIAN, reports.
Just before the commencement of media tour to the landmark and developmental projects executed across Abia state by the Okezie Ikpeazu’s led government within 2 years, Abia State Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Uzo Azubuike, interestingly told journalists that job and wealth creation, which according to him will ultimately translate to tremendous development across the state are the targets of the government.
He went on explained that the targets prompted the aggressive and strategic roads construction, agricultural undertakings, policies such as Education-for-Employment, promotion of Made-in-Aba products, as well as strong support to SMEs in the state etc. He added that the whole idea was to empower Abia citizens in such a way that they will not only create wealth and jobs, but be partners in physical development of the state.
His words, “In view to change the story of Abia and provide opportunities for her citizens to key-in for a better life, the directive of Abia State government is to achieve diversification of our economy through agriculture, commerce and industrial. And this is to achieve the greater secret target of the Ikpeazu’s government, which is wealth and job creation, and development of Abia. So to achieve this, we also find it necessary to diversify agriculture itself, because our experience is that most of the people in agricultural practises are our aging parents.
“Agriculture; was seen as occupation for the uneducated; the poor, rejects and frustrated of the society. And we feel that we can only achieve our goal and mission i.e. economic diversification by diversifying agriculture itself so that everyone: old or young, educated or not; can find something in agriculture that he or she can happily and proudly do.
“But today in Abia, everybody has come to agree that no nation feed by the poor can ever have enough food on their table. Because it takes the participation of the wealthy in a society to produce enough food for a nation, and that is why the present Abia government takes agricultural enterprises very serious.
“So we have exposed our youths to agricultural enterprises in view to creating jobs. Because this government believe that its achievement will not be complete without sustainable jobs being created, so that our youth are engaged and earning a meaningful living.”
Furthermore, he said “We are taking all our ventures towards making Abia great serious. As we speak, the state government is establishing a large mushroom farm. A team from Lagos are working on our mushroom farm establishment already, because we have discovered that mushroom farming is a big farming business. When you go to Shoprite and see the price of a kilo of mushroom, you will know that it is serious money making venture.
“So realising this, we organised a training of 20 youths from each of the 17 LGAs which in total is 340 youths. We have trained them in mushroom farming. And some of them now are already farming theirs.
“In the area of rice production, it was argued before now that Abia was not a rice producing state. But from creation, Abia has always been. The challenge was lack of processing mill. So people farm here and buyers come from Ebonyi and other states to carry our paddies to produce. But under this administration, we have been able to establish 2 rice mills, one in Atani -Abam, the other at Ofeme in Umuahia North with Distoner Machines.
“Also, the governor has given a warrant to enable us build two more mills, and by the end of March, the project will take off. One will be in Acha area of Isikwuato LGA and the other one at Ozuakoli Market itself, where paddies are sold. In each of these new mills, we will put Distoner Machines and make arrangement for bagging so that rice will be processed from end to end and ready for the market.
“It is also worthy to note that prior to this government’s effort, we had Abia rice which people in Abia bought and ate during the last December festivity.”
He went on. “This 2018, it is part of our goal to build an ultra-modern rice mill. And we have already received the governor’s and the legislative council approval through the budget to proceed. We talking about a mill that will go beyond processing the rice, distoning and bagging it, to refining and polishing it to tune of what people call foreign rice.
“And to ensure that Abia mass rice production agenda which aims at providing jobs for Abians and creating wealth succeeds, we are doing a number of things. One, the state government paid counterpart fund for us to participate in FADAMA 3 additional finance programme. And the gesture yielded so much that last year, as rice farmers in Abia received over N300 million grants in aide of their rice farming and other tools. And the result was bumper harvest in rice last year.
“So as we speak, many in Abia state are now interested in rice farming because they are sure of where to take their rice to for processing.”
He also said, “In oil palm production, what we are doing is a long term engagement that in the next 7 years, Abia State will not have issues of paying worker’s salary. If you understand the wealth significant of Palm oil production, you will know that what we have done at Osisioma LGA where we have over 2million palm trees will surely place Abia richer than most states of the federation.
“So this and many more are the governor ‘s vision of creating avenues through which Abia could generate funds, develop itself and at the same time create jobs for its teeming youth.”