Ejike Anyaduba writes that the Obiano administration is encouraging the breeding of the local cow, and with promising results

Since Willie Obiano became the governor of Anambra State he has fostered new ideas that set Anambra apart as a leading state among other states in Nigeria. He has also revived old ideas, including customs and institutions that make the state unique in its own right.

When some years back he talked about reviving interest in the breeding of the local cow (Efi-Igbo) in commercial quantity no one doubted him or the workability of the project. That was because of his track record – his passion for great ideas and the willingness to put them into practice. Three years down the line, the project did not just take off, but it is charting a new course in breeding cattle in ranches. For the governor, reviving the traditional breed of cattle which was going extinct was a way of preserving Igbo cultural heritage.

To make this a reality his government made provisions for facilities to be granted to farmers, manufacturers, traders, etc., through the Anambra Small Business Agency (ASBA). A loan of N1billion was then procured for the agency to be disbursed to various categories of clients thus: 45% to manufacturing, 35% to agriculture, 12% to trade and commerce and 10% to service delivery. It is important to note that no obligor has flouted the monthly interest repayment obligation. Confirming this, Chief Clement Chukwuka, the managing director of the agency said: “It is gratifying to note that our N1billion SME facilities granted to beneficiaries has almost zero default as no obligor has defaulted in their monthly interest repayment obligations”.

With appreciable interest from government the project has now assumed the status of a wholesale venture. The cattle is being crossbred with stocks from Europe, South America and Nigeria in order to make it bigger, yield more milk and be more competitive in the wider market. Suggesting this possibility the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenement, C Don Adinuba who once visited the Adamawa farm of a former Chief of Naval Staff and one time governor of the state, Admiral Murtala Nyako said: “The farm has plenty of crossbred cattle. Cattle from Europe have plenty of milk but not as much flesh as cattle from Argentina. So cattle from Argentina and Europe were crossbred to produce species with plenty milk and plenty of flesh. You can call it the science of using one stone to kill two birds, or the art of having the best of two worlds.”

It is important to state here that the idea of breeding this unique brand of cattle is for two reasons. One is to revive a dying culture. There is very little doubt that the stock is almost going extinct and where it still exists, it is carried on at a subsistent level. The other is the business aspect of the project. Apart from augmenting the protein needs of the people, it will also help to jack up the revenue profile of the state. This can be confirmed with the level of patronage the business is already attracting. Indications are that customers are seen in their numbers at the two ranches at the Eagle Farms Ltd, Umuchu in Aguata Local Government Area and Wonder Farms, Umunze, in Orumba South Local Government Area. Those said to be great patronizers of the stock are traditional rulers, titled men, traditionalists, etc., who prefer the brand for use during performance of traditional rites.

Chief Ugochukwu Okparaeke, the Chairman of the Farms was to confirm this during the launch of this year’s farming season at the Ekwueme square, Awka. Chief Okparaeke who brought a sample cow to showcase the progress he has made over the years stated that he started the business with only two cows, but can boast of over 300 today. He said that he has done the business for a period, spanning over a decade and was quick to reveal how his introduction of other brand into the ranches brought about the crossbreeding process. The Ef-Igbo farmer fondly called Eze Anumanu (King of Animals) was full of gratitude to the Obiano government for the assistance given to them in the farming business. He said that without the encouragement most of them would not cope with the challenges associated with the business. He was equally thankful to his customers – most of whom have taken it upon themselves to use the local brand for all cultural rites.

This is not the first time the Obiano government is bringing up new ideas in the running of the state. Not long after he assumed office his government introduced the idea of Akulueuno (wealth repatriation). To make this work he tackled within months the undesirable persistent influence of criminality in the state. He followed this up by bringing Ndigbo within and in the diaspora to Anambra State to mark a symbolic burial for the fallen heroes of the war. He did not stop there; he also invited to the state many of the pop stars of the seventies whose music helped enlivened the post war spirit of Ndigbo and recognized them. He did so for members of the old Rangers.

All these do not detract from real governance where he has made some mark in virtually every sector of the economy like agriculture, education, infrastructure, health, skill acquisition and empowerment, service delivery, among others. To the credit of his administration a lot of job has been created since since 2014. Most of the youth empowerment programmes of the administration have taken the unemployed out of the street. Employments were also secured in many of the mechanized farms, blue chip industries, Arma, Artma, and Ocha Brigade, apart from recruitment in the civil service and in the teaching line. The administration has also revived interest in keeping waifs, beggars, tenants at will off the street by taking care of them at a home at Nteje. The good thing about this is that it has augured for a cleaner and healthier environment.

Anyaduba wrote from Abatete