Ndifreke P. Akpan (Govt House)
Governor Udom Emmanuel has commended the Paramount Ruler of Onna local Government Area and his wife for initiating a 42 hectares integrated farm project which he said, is in line with his administration’s agenda of Agricultural revolution and food sufficiency in the state.
Mr Emmanuel who lauded the opportunities presented by the farm initiative, said his vision is to ensure that in the next few years, Akwa Ibom shall produce 80percent of what it consumes.
The Governor speaking while commissioning a Songhai model farm, Ibom Integrated Farms limited at Awa Ndon in Onna Local Government area, said he was pleased to commission such a large scale community development project.
He encouraged all owners of hospitality facilities in the state to patronize the initiative by purchasing birds, fish, tomatoes, pepper, vegetables, livestock, and other products from the farm to boost local production.
Emmanuel who noted that even as a Governor he owned a large farm in Ini Local Government, advised businessmen and community leaders to encourage creativity and ideas in their communities, as his administration is ready to support such initiatives.
“If creativity and ideas are found anywhere, I’ll follow. So take creativity and ideas to your community, I’ll follow you there. I congratulate the Paramount Ruler of Onna and his dear wife for this great and inspiring initiative.”
“It takes a dedicated, passionate patriot to add value to our common enterprise of diversifying an economy and helping the government expand the layers of its growth and productivity.
He explained that the farm, purely Onna Community Development Council’s initiative shared by the Paramount Ruler, has already employed 200 young people with a prospect of employing 1000 at full capacity.
He described Agriculture as the largest employer anywhere in the world, maintaining that it will provide raw materials for the industries in the state.
“The MD of the Fertiliser blending plant is here, tell me why that company will not do well. Immediately the Songhai people finish from here, they have to blend fertilizer that will suit the soil and also suit the type of crops that we are planting here and if this is replicated in so many other communities, I want to believe we will go far.”
Introducing the farm, the Paramount Ruler of Onna, HRM, Edidem Raymond Timothy Inyang who is also the Chairman, Ibom Integrated Farms limited and Chairman of Onna Community Development Council, said Ibom Integrated farms limited is focused on affecting the mindset of the local population and creating enterprise awareness within the community.
“The farm has a vision of replicating Songhai capacity in Nigeria by systematically transforming Agricultural practice through improved farming methods that deliver superior products in terms of quantity and quality.”
He said the initiative is a partnership with the state government, adding that the commissioning, within one year of start off is in line with the low hanging fruits philosophy that requires that it becomes operational within a year.
“So far, Ibom Integrated Farms Limited has succeeded in combining local knowledge with the modern farming techniques from our strategic partners, Songhai farms of Benin Republic and collaboration with them to create the shift to new frontiers in organized operations in Agriculture.”
“Our objectives are both economic and social as we want to serve as the model for others to learn a lot because no other person will want to invest in our community if we don’t take the lead.”
“It depends on raw materials that can be sourced locally, it depends on skill workers that are available locally. It must have adequate land area, it must have high employment potential.”
“We have 5000 birds now layers, we have 11000 birds with capacity for 18 and free range chicken, road island raid, including guinea fowls, Aqua birds.”
“We produce pepper, okro, tomatoes, carrots, lectuce, garbage, cucumber, pumpkin with large plantation for pineapple, plantain and cassava.”
He said the farm also engages in large scale production of cat fish and tilapia, 24 concrete ponds of 2000 fishes each and a large earthen pond containing over 250,000 cat fish and tilapia.
Edidem Inyang who said the farm produces high quality feed from its feed mill for its livestock and chickens as well, has the capacity to produce feed for sale to outside farmers.
Chairman on the occasion and state Commissioner for Works, Ephraim Inyangeyen, and the commissioner for Agriculture, Uduak Udoinyang, in their separate messages, urged all Akwa Ibomites to key into the agriculture programme of Governor Udom Emmanuel, maintaining that while Government is putting in place infrastructure, people with resources and interest can take up farming as a business venture.
“So my appeal today to our leaders, the Traditional Rulers, those who have what it takes to go into farming, please I appeal, that you don’t wait to start with hectares, if you have 1 hectare, start doing something,” Mr Inyangeyen added.
Highpoint of the occasion was the inauguration of the Executive Committee and Board of Patrons of Onna Community Development Council, with the Governor as Grand Patron.