DAY 3 – GOV UDOM AT 54
AGRICULTURE AND ENTREPRENEURIAL DEVELOPMENT
Since assumption of office in 2015, Governor Udom Emmanuel has continued to bestow on Agriculture its pride of place as a top burner sector of the economy by ensuring that there are more tractors in the farms than luxury SUVs on the streets.
The measure is geared towards food sufficiency and security for the people, as well as a means of achieving the Governor’s vision that food consumed in Akwa Ibom State are home grown and more so, in abundance for exportation. To this end, Governor Udom Emmanuel opened up the hinterlands with high quality roads networks to create access to the rich agricultural prospects across the State. This redeeming wind blew across Ini, Obot Akara, Uruan, Oron, Oruk Anam among others, bringing to the state flourishing agricultural produce ranging from fruits to vegetables, to sea foods, poultry, livestock and grains. The critical investment has given rise to the boom in agricultural activities in the state.
To further buttress the Agricultural sector, Governor Udom Emmanuel constituted supervisory and coordinating Committees, such as: the Technical Committee on Agriculture and Food Sufficiency, and the Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, comprising indigenous egg heads to work hand in gloves with the State Ministry of Agriculture and Women Affairs for coordination of Agricultural activities.
The collaboration has successfully facilitated agricultural Renaissance in the state catalysed by the provision of farming implements, soft interest-free loans, fertilizers, extension services and improved seedlings to farmers. So far, Governor Udom Emmanuel has distributed over 500,000 improved cocoa seedlings to Cocoa farmers in the state, supplied improved maize seedlings and cassava cuttings as well as improved plantain suckers and citrus to farmers and interested members of the public.
It is worthy of mention that, Cocoa production has received special attention with the training of farmers on modern skills of cocoa maintenance scheme, known as pruning, and just recently, Governor Udom Emmanuel distributed Agro Chemicals –NAPSAC Sprayers to all cocoa farmers in addition to the provision of a drying machine to enhance cocoa processing. The initiative has increased the successes and prosperity of the state in cocoa production, making Akwa Ibom to suddenly stand out as the largest cocoa producer, with the best variety of Cocoa in Nigeria.
Presently, Akwa Ibom boasts of a boom in vegetables like cucumber and tomatoes, with the establishment of large green houses in the state, as well as a boost in staple food like Garri with the construction of numerous cassava processing mills across the state, which has resulted in the crash of the market price of Garri.
Governor Udom Emmanuel has also invested handsomely in rice production in the state with the facilitation of the construction of Rice mills in the State namely the Ibom Agricon Rice at Ini Local Government Area, the Sacam Rice Mill at Ikono, and the Ibom Golden Rice in Ibiono. The Governor has not only distributed improved rice seedlings to farmers but has also ensured the provision of mechanized farm implements to assist in rice cultivation.
With the dwindling revenue in crude oil, and the emerging fortunes of Coconut oil as the new cash cow in the global market, Governor Udom Emmanuel strategically dived into Coconut production with the cultivation of 11,000 hectares of Coconut Plantatain which proceeds will feed the Coconut Oil Refinery in the state. Of added advantage to Agricultural development is the fertilizer blending plant in the state, which blends fertilizer to meet the needs of the local farmers.
Furthermore, the Governor is gearing at making Akwa Ibom State the poultry nerve center of the South-South and South – East regions, with the completion of an ultra-modern world class hatchery for day old chicks at Mbiaya Uruan. The hatchery has a poultry farm for off-takers and processing of matured birds for poultry meat.
With his vision to build a vibrant society driven by entrepreneurs, Governor Udom Emmanuel embarked on measures geared at stimulating the local economy by encouraging small and medium scale enterprises in agro-based and agro-alied ventures. Such measures prompted the Governor to commence a 3bn Naira revolving loan facility for traders and small business owners as well as exposed them to an interest free loan ranging from 100,000 to 5million Naira. This is in addition to the interest free loan to 2000 cassava and corn farmers in the state.
Still in pursuit of a vibrant and entrepreneurial-driven economy, Governor Udom Emmanuel has directed his attention to what could be termed “the low hanging fruits”. To this end, the Governor focuses on such ventures with less capital involvement but with much profits margin and huge turnover. Such ventures are readily identifiable in the agricultural sector, small and medium scale enterprises as well as in skill acquisition and empowerment.
In this regard, Governor Udom Emmanuel has invested maximally in entrepreneural development to the extent of giving it a legal backing with the setting up of Akwa Ibom Micro Enterprises and Development Agency and signing the Akwa Ibom Micro Enterprises Agency bill into law.
The My Entrepreneurship Goals Programme of the Marketing and Brand Management unit of the Governor’s office which is driving the entrepreneurial development in the state has so far trained for certification more than 130 youths on the management of various enterprises.
Within the life of his government, and in a bid to recapitalise the economy, Governor Udom Emmanuel has injected over 2bn Naira interest free loan into trading and other small scale businesses in the state. And in order to ensure that the prices of staple foods are within the reach of the poor, Governor Udom Emmanuel encouraged the formation of cooperative societies and provided them with food protection and processing equipment.
Governor Emmanuel’s investments in the Agric sector and entrepreneural development have yielded immeasurable dividends as thousands of youths in the state have become self-reliant and employers of labour while the home grown Agric produce like Garri and Rice, formed the bulk of the state Government’s palliatives distributed to the people of the state during the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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