By Alex Enebeli
Enugu State Government has inaugurated rice mills, solar powered boreholes, cassava processing centers and others in five Council Areas of the state to assist rural farmers.
The projects which were 77 in number were done in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development- Value Chain Development Programme (IFAD-VCDP).
The benefiting Local Government Areas were Aninri, Enugu East, Nkanu East, Isi Uzo and Udenu.
The projects included rice milling processing centers at Nenwe in Aninri LGA, Solar powered boreholes in Amechi Idodo and Mbulu Owo in Nkanu East LGA, Cassava processing centers at Umuagama Ezimo, Ogbeke Nike in Udenu and Enugu East LGAs respectfully.
Others are market stalls at Umualor and Nkwo Mbu in Isi-Uzo LGA as well as Solar boreholes at Obollo Etiti, Ezimo Agu, Ibenda in Obollo Eke in Udenu LGA and many others.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture and Agro Industrialisation, Mr Patrick Ubru, said the projects were in line with the vision of the state Gov. Peter Mbah,to eliminate poverty and developing agriculture sector.
According to him, most of the projects visited and inaugurated are channeled toward improving the livelihood of the farmers and ensuring that they do not produce at primary level but also add value to their produce.
“What we saw at Nenwe in Aninri rice processing mill, when the farmers finish with their farming and harvest, they can easily take it to the mill to process it.
“This will help them to eliminate post harvest losses and get more money. At Mbulu Owo, can you see how happy people are because government provided water for the rice farmers.
“When our governor came on board, he said within 180 days there would be water in Enugu State; today, Mbulu Owo and Amechi Idodo benefitted from it and several other communities,” he said.
The Commissioner added that in less than one or two months, people would begin to see the construction of the proposed Special Agro Processing Zone in Mbulu Owo.
According to him, it would be replicated across the three Senatorial Zones of the state.
“So it is a thing of joy for what we are doing here today and with all these projects, the state will be self sufficient in rice production in the next few years to come.
“Very soon, we will begin to see the use of tractors in our farming system as Gov Mbah promised to mechanize agricultural sector and where people are farming two or three hectares, you see them farming five to six hectares.
“You will also see the influx of investors to commercialize our agriculture sector,” Ubru said.
He encouraged farmers to be hopeful as the governor was willing to take the state back to the years of glory in agriculture during the time of the Premier of Eastern Region, Dr Michael Okpara.
Dr Edward Isiwu, the State Project Coordinator of IFAD-VCDP, said the projects would assist the rural farmers in their food production and enable them get value for the produce.
While expressing gratitude to God for building such number of projects, Isiwu said, “They were made possible because the governor paid three years counterpart fund.
“Today I am very happy that what Enugu State Government, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and what IFAD-VCDP is doing is manifesting in communities in Enugu State.
“What else can I say, but to give glory to God Almighty for giving us enablement to do all these.
“Because he paid the money, I submitted totally in making sure that the fund is utilized by doing them under the rain and sun to deliver on the projects,” Isiwu said.
In a remark, the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Chidiebere Onyia, represented by Juliet Okonkwo, Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Legal matters and inter-ministerial matters, lauded the farmers for their contribution toward food sufficiency in the state.
While encouraging them to stand firm in their line of businesses, Onyia assured them of government’s continuous support.
A farmer, Lovelyn Ejim, Chairperson, Chidiebube Farmers Rice Association, while commending IFAD, Mbah and Isiwu said the intervention of IFAD had brought smiles on the faces of the rural farmers.
“These projects will make us to double our effort to produce rice for the people of Aninri and the state in general,” Ejim said(NAN) (www.nannews.ng)