The administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has taken measures in furtherance of its efforts to cushion the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the people and the economy of the state.
Consequently, the Enugu State office of the African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for African Development (AUDA-NEPAD), yesterday, held an interactive meeting with stakeholders in the state –traditional rulers of autonomous communities and Presidents General of town unions on the agency’s agricultural project aimed at empowering small holder farmers and boosting food production to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing the stakeholders, the Enugu State Commissioner for Special Duties and State Coordinator/Focal Person in charge of AUDA/NEPAD, Enugu Office, Hon. Mrs. Mabel Agbo, disclosed that AUDA-NEPAD Continental Office in collaboration with some International Agencies took bold measures to cushion the impact of COVID-19 on the citizens by initiating the project, entitled ‘Innovative Strengthening of Small holder Farmers Capabilities Towards Productive Land Restoration Amid COVID-19 in Nigeria’.
Mrs. Agbo said that “this project as the title connotes is aimed at empowering small holder farmers in our different communities in all agriculture value chains and segments (crops and livestock) to boost their capacity for food production, especially in the aftermath of the devastating impact of COVID-19 on our economy.”
She stressed that “to reduce the negative impact of this pandemic, we must step up efforts to enhance the capacity of our farmers to provide food for the well-being of our citizens.”
Revealing that the African Union (AU) has set the ball rolling by providing the required money for the realisation of the agricultural project, the AUDA-NEPAD state Coordinator pointed out that “our goal-oriented Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, was equally not found wanting as he readily approved the provision of the counterpart fund required for this project.”
She, therefore, urged the traditional rulers of the autonomous communities in Enugu State and the Presidents General of Town Unions to ensure that lands are made available for use by the potential farmers, who she said are eager to embrace the challenges of cluster farming but do not have the requisite land space for the agricultural project in their various communities.
“As the custodians of your ancestral lands, we expect you to help by disentangling those cultivable lands under your jurisdiction that are not presently in use.
“We are also aware that in some communities, the Green Lands earlier earmarked/acquired by government for agriculture have been encroached by land grabbers.
“We enjoin you to help us identify these lands and take necessary steps to free them for use in this project.”
Also speaking, the representative of the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Afam Ngene, described the project as laudable, commending the AUDA-NEPAD for the initiative.
The commissioner equally lauded Governor Ugwuanyi for ensuring that the programme reaches all the nooks and crannies of Enugu State, for full actualisation of the objectives in the interest of the farmers in particular and the state in general.
He hinted that the project has a 10 years duration that will outlive the present administration both at the state and federal levels.
In their separate contributions, the Deputy Chairman of Enugu State Council of Traditional Rulers, HRH Igwe Barr. R.S.N. Eze; Igwe P.U. Agbo; Igwe Engr. Okey Ogbodo; Igwe Greg Ugwu; Igwe H.I. Eze; the Coordinating Chairman of Presidents General (PGs) in Enugu State, Barr. Paulinus Eze, and other PGs, thanked Governor Ugwuanyi for attracting the international project to the state and promised to consult widely with their communities for the realisation of the all important programme.