Akwa Ibom: Planning big for agriculture
Akwa Ibom State has started production of tomatoes, cucumber and other crops that were not hitherto grown in the state.Commenting on the improvement, Chairman Technical Committee on Agriculture and Food Sufficiency, Prof. Edet Udoh, said: “Hitherto, we never had policy direction on agriculture. We always depended on the Federal Government, but of late, Governor Udom Emmanuel has actually commissioned the committee and we work with the Ministry of Agriculture and New Nigeria Foundation to set a policy direction for the state.
“What we are looking at, likened to Green Revolution, is moving agriculture from culture agriculture to the business of agriculture and we are looking at stimulating the value chain and its imperatives that will ensure we are self sufficient in agricultural development,” he said.
To achieve this, he said the state adopted five points’ strategies. “One is cooperative agriculture strategy. The essence is that, in Akwa Ibom State, the average land is quite small; you cannot talk about commercial agriculture under a small land culture, so there must be land consolidation, social capital formation. That means you have to bring people together so that they can consolidate the land and work together and you provide them with the inputs; you cannot give input to these small-scale farmers because they cannot do anything useful.
“So, as we are moving from culture agriculture to business agriculture, you need to have consolidation of farmland, you can only do that through cooperative agriculture. We develop business plan and the farmers, government and others contribute and is beginning to yield results.”
Another strategy is “the value chain model. For every crop we are taking, we are looking at that crop as a commodity and you cannot talk about commodity except you have the value chain well developed. For instance, on the staple crops, we are basically looking at cassava, rice, maize and plantain. We have developed the cassava value chain as per what the governor presented, we started with the cassava multiplication plot, where improved cassava cuttings are cultivated and after that, we rationed it out to these farms and after we have set up pilot processing centres, in the three senatorial districts and these has been leased out to private bodies and what is produced is off-taken, processed and marketed. So you can see that, for every commodity, we developed the value chain, we are doing the same thing for rice.
On livestock, he said, “we know that one of the major problems this state had was the issue of day-old-chicks (DOCs). It may interest you to know that, we bring in about 3,400 DOCs every week and that is a lot of capital flight and a way to buffet the capital of the state is to develop a value chain for the poultry because we consume a lot. So what we did was to develop a hatchery that is running now.
“Currently, we are hatching 14,000 DOCs every week and because we want to guarantee the supply of fertilized eggs, we have also developed a breeder farm where the birds lay up to 15,000 fertilized eggs every week. Coupled with that, we have also developed out-growers scheme, which is one of the strategies we are using.
“In poultry, we have developed outgrowers, when we produce the DOCs, we make arrangement and the local farmers will breed them, when they reach marketable age, we buy back, processed for them. Currently, we are processing 6,000 birds per week. The essence is you don’t just give the farmers the input; you must also be able to buy, in that way, we are trying to develop the value chain and also develop the out-growers scheme…Basically, the agricultural strategy Akwa Ibom is using is Cooperative Agriculture, Value Addition, Out-Grower Scheme, Private-Public-Partnership, strategies and so far, the result has been encouraging.”
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