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NewsReel-2 14/4/2014 - Speech By Gov. Orji On The Occasion of The Launching of The 2014 Cropping Season Held At Umuahia South Local Govt. Headquarters On April 10, 2014

NewsReel-2 14/4/2014 - Speech By Gov. Orji On The Occasion of The Launching of The 2014 Cropping Season Held At Umuahia South Local Govt. Headquarters On April 10, 2014

 [ Masterweb Reports ] – Distinguished ladies and gentlemen;  I am delighted to address this special gathering of our farmers and citizens, here to mark the commencement of the 2014 Cropping Season in Abia State. Our State is largely an agrarian State committed to the agricultural transformation agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria. And that is why we will continue to do whatever is required to promote an agrarian culture and other events that support farming activities in our State.

The occasion of today affords us a unique opportunity to take stock of how agriculture has performed in our State, especially under our Administration, so that we can effectively plan ahead to promote activities that support agricultural growth for this year.   
I therefore thank all stakeholders in the agricultural sector who are here to support today’s activities. Your presence certainly underscores the significance you attach to agriculture in the promotion of your lives and that of our citizens.

I need to mention here that since the inception of our Administration, we have left no one in doubt of our firm resolve to take agriculture to the highest level in this State. We recognized that agriculture which should be the bedrock of our Nation’s economy was relegated to the background in the era of increased oil resources, and we resolved to reverse the situation and restore our State to the path of sustainable economic growth.

We are also aware that any nation that is unable to feed its population can neither develop nor experience a stable polity, and that is why our State joined with the Federal Government of Nigeria to restore and chart a new economic future through the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, now on-going.     
With the Federal Government, our State has now focused on transforming agricultural activities in our areas from a subsistence level, to a level that can provide rewarding wealth creation and business ventures.

We expect this focus to bring in a new way of doing things in the agricultural sector, especially putting a new human face to agriculture that will make it attractive to our youths and agro-investors.           
We expect this to lead to a new value-chain approach in the production of agro-commodities, while providing risk-sharing and incentives that reduce the cost of inputs. That is why I urge our citizens to take more active interests in the farming sector as a way of the future, and you can begin right from here!

Besides, the agricultural transformation activities we envisage are the only sure ways to creating massive jobs to take our people out of poverty and raise new wealth builders. It is in this regard that our Administration has resolved to return agriculture to the front burner of our economic growth, and be the source for ensuring both food security and creation of massive jobs for citizens. 

This is why we have resolved to put not less than 65% of our available rich and arable lands and our networks of flowing rivers and water bodies in the State to the production of surplus food, abundant fishes and other aquatic food – both for consumption and for cash. Our Administration will be there to support all genuine farmers willing to invest in the sector and take the risk to excel.

That is why I am excited today on the theme of this year’s cropping season ‘Transforming Agriculture for food security’ – which is both apt and timely and in consonance with our Administration’s agro-policy directions. 
Our Administration has resolved to establish Liberation Farms – as model farm projects in the 17 LGAs of our State and we believe that this will not only expose rural farmers to the best farm practices, but will encourage farm entrepreneurs to produce surplus crops, livestock and fisheries, and through that generate enormous wealth and massive employment for our teeming youths.

Presently, our Liberation farms at Okeikpe (Ukwa-West) and Lodu (Umuahia-North) are training more than 100 youths in modern agricultural skills. I have also approved the take-off of other Liberation Farms at Isiala-Amaba (Isuikwuato LGA) and Idima Abam (Arochukwu LGA), and these will absorb more youths for training.

Our State has vigorously pursued the privatization of State-Owned agricultural concerns to improve performance output. We have brought in entrepreneurs with adequate financial and human capital to invest in such projects so as to turn them quickly into centres of agro-excellence and job creation areas.     
That is why we have successfully privatived the Cocoa Estates at Agbozu Uzuakoli and the Abia Rubber Company; while the Abia Palm Ohambele (Ukwa), Nkporo Oil Palm and Ozuitem, - and Ulonna Palm Estates are now being prepared for privatization.

Other investors are also coming in to partner with us in the Cassava Production and Processing, - all with the objectives of boosting the economy of Abia State and attracting massive investment in the agro-sector. 

Already, a 6,000ha Cassava Production/Processing Center in Abiriba – in partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria is on-going, and has the potential of turning the cassava enterprise in Abia State to a gold mine. In fact, clearing and survey work is currently going on the cassava sites at Abiriba, and I use this opportunity to thank the people of Abiriba for making available their land for this laudable project.

Our State will continue to support and encourage communities and our development partners who have keyed into our agro-development agenda to ensure that farm/infrastructural activities are scaled up to serve our people. I commend especially our partners in the IFAD and FADAMA 111 Projects.

As we continue to work very hard to attain a bumper harvest from this year’s farming activities, I have directed our Ministry of Agriculture to undertake the following facilitative actions to ensure we achieve our goals:

•       Ensure the registration of more Abia farmers so as to benefit from the smart input subsidy of Abia State and the Federal Government under the GES Scheme.

•       Initiate and conclude the privatization of Ulonna North Farm Settlement, Ozuitem Palm Estate, Ukwa and Nkporo Oil Palm Estates, among others.

•       Ensure the procurement of some tractors to be deployed to the food producing LGAs to enhance land preparation.

•       Improve the skills of our farmers through seminars, workshops and improved extension services of the State ADP.

•       Strengthen extension services under the ADP, with the State government, in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development providing 22 motorcycles for distribution to extension workers at the grassroots. In fact the motorcycles are here for distribution today!

•       Strengthen the task force put in place to checkmate the damage to crops by cattle herdsmen which is currently resulting to community conflicts in many parts of the country and

•       Providing support services such as pest and disease control services, and improved storage system to reduce waste of farm produce.

I will continue to commend our farmers and all other stakeholders in the agricultural sector for your commitments and dedication to advancing the fortunes of agriculture in our State. I have faith that this sector has the potentials to turn around the economic fortunes of our State, our people and our Nation.      
I therefore urge you to continue to make the necessary sacrifices for the realization of the agricultural transformation action plans of our State, and it is my honour and privilege to formally declare the 2014 Cropping Season open!

Thank you and God bless Abia State and the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

*Photo Caption – Governor T. A. Orji