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‘Why communities should embrace FG’s farm estate project’

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Director-General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, has urged Nigerians, especially people of Enugu State, to embrace the Federal Government’s ongoing Integrated Farm Estate Project.

The Federal Government had announced, recently, that it would establish Integrated Farm Estates across the 109 Senatorial Districts in the country. The plan has, however, stirred mixed feelings, with many describing it as an indirect way of reintroducing the controversial Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) project.

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But speaking to journalists, yesterday, in Enugu, Okechukwu appealed to Enugu communities to participate fully, saying the farm projects would be managed by the communities themselves and not Fulani.

He said the programme was a Presidential mandate to close bandits’ market, provide employment and food security.

He said he was making the appeal “because our people are embarrassingly missing billions of naira budget from the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), unlike other geopolitical zones, in one of the key projects in Buhari’s Agrarian Revolution value chain.”

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He said it was regrettable that some people’s past time is stockpiling hatred against the central government as if Buhari would preside over Nigeria for life.

He explained: “We should not gloss over the truism that the central government remains the only common shelter, which shelters us all. In no distant future, Nigeria will take her destined status as a giant of Africa. Therefore, it is not pragmatic to cut our nose to spite Buhari’s face.

“Accordingly, we should not reject humanitarian projects that ignite employment, close bandits’ market, reduce poverty and provide food security, because of sentiments.”

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Okechukwu said he was happy that the Executive Secretary of the National Land Development Authority (NALDA), Prince Paul Ikonne, clarified the concept of the programme. He noted: “But the true position is that the integrated farm estate is designed to accommodate youths from that community, to engage them in the entire agricultural value chain.”

“And it depends on what the community is interested in. Some states are getting into poultry, like in the North. In the South, like Abia, they’re doing fishery and rabbit rearing. In Oyo, we already have rabbit rearing and crop farming. In Ekiti, it is crop farming.”

He added: “It is not another or anything that has to do with RUGA. What we have is poultry, fishery, piggery and any farming model of the choice of the community.”

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