Ebonyi Allocates Land to Commissioners, Others for Compulsory Rice Production

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• Launches one-man, one-hectare scheme
The Ebonyi State Government has revved up its agricultural programme by allocating land to the members of the state executive council.

The event, which took place at Ezillo Government Farm in Ishielu Local Government Area is the first phase of Governor David Umahi’ a policy to involve every segment of the society in massive rice production.

The Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Uchenna Orji, led the team comprising agric extension workers and officials of IFAD to carry out the exercise.

Orji, according to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Emma Anya, said 140 hectares of land were allocated to the exco members for the cultivation of rice under the Multi-Purpose Co-operative Society Limited in line with IFAD requirement for cooperative system and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The remaining 1,360 hectares were set aside for other cooperative societies and individuals that have already keyed into the policy through the IFAD and CBN-anchored borrowers’ programme.

Orji, who described the agric programme of the David Umahi administration as all inclusive, said tractors would be mobilised to the site immediately in line with the governor’s vision of massive rice production for commercial quantity.

He added: “ We do expect that through the Senior Special Assistant on rice production, Chief Itakpa Azobu, that latest by Monday, July 4,we will mobilise our tractors to come here.
“It is in line with governor’s vision that we should not only go into mechanisation of farming, we should go commercial. W are going to express that this 2016 farming season.”

In an interview ,the Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Senator Emmanuel Onwe, said it was exco’s decision that any individual of mature age, whether government appointee or civil servant, must cultivate at least one or two hectares of land to boost agriculture in the state.

The Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Ebonyi State University, Prof. Folusho David, commended the agricultural policy and called on government to continue the sensitisation of farmers in the area.
Other exco members who spoke, were the SSA to the governor on Rice Production; the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr.Obinna Nwachukwu, SSA on Infrastructure Development, Chief Ali Odefa; Commissioner for Education, Prof.John Eke, Commissioner for Justice, Augustine Nwankwagu.

They said exco was poised to demonstrate to the world that Ebonyi State was a rice producing state.
The Commissioner for Border Peace and Conflict Resolution, Mrs. Elizabeth Ogbaga, who spoke on behalf of the female exco members, said tomatoes production would be their major area of concern.
Meanwhile, the state government will next month launch a one-man, one-hectare scheme in its determined effort to make the state Nigeria’s number one rice producer.

Governor David Umahi made this known yesterday in Abakaliki during an agricultural summit for civil/public servants.
Umahi, at the well attended event, said his administration would guarantee loans from the federal government in order to encourage the civil and public servants to restore the state’s pride of place in the agricultural sector.

He said: “As a sovereign state, we must be prepared to continue to be a sovereign state. I am appealing to our civil servants to key into this programme.
“Government will give you soft loan. A loan that will come from the federation account. We will grantee it so that you will get it. In August we are going to do a launching of one-man, one -hectare in Ebonyi State.

The governor also told the gathering that his administration was determined to “empower over 1,000 of our youths and 1,000 of our women to go into agriculture and other semi-skilled business that would take off with soft loans.

He said his government was “planning to have six mega cities in Ebonyi State,” adding that any local government area that was able to provide 5,000 hectares of land would serve as the pilot ground.
According to Umahi, the world Bank and CBN had already indicated interest in the project which will also have irrigation facility.

The governor added: “We will put some social amenities there. We will put the rice husk power plant. We will put rice mill and buying centre. We are going to work with our consultant. When we met World Bank and discussed that with them, they said they are working in Kogi State. If the Ministry of Agriculture gives approval, they will include Ebonyi.”

He restated his government’s commitment to the welfare of workers and appealed to them to key into his vision of boosting the state’s economy through agriculture.

He added that four new buses with airconditioners had been purchased by his government to ease transportation of workers to the Centennary City. The city partly serves as the state’s new secretariat.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Orji, had said the government was tragetting 80,000 farmers to be involved in the agricultural revolution this year.