AGRO-ALLIED -ECONOMY: UDOM‘S VEGETABLES REVOLUTION

by Praise Might on 01-11-2017 in General

When  Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Employment Scheme (AKEES) was launched, many saw it as another deceptive initiative  by government to hoodwink the innocent public, many who also believe in the scheme thought it was all about white collar job .

But as a banana peel covering the sweetness of the banana, the AKEES initiatives has started yielding fruits in disparate echelons of the State economy, from Agriculture, cottage industries, craft , consulting and media  . This ingenuity of governor Udom Emmanuel to create wealth and job for Akwa Ibom people and residents alike is  fast changing the stories of so many youth and women  who had taken advantage of this government window to gain occupation and also employ others .

Last week I wrote on  one  of the cottage industries promoted by the AKEES  , the Tooth Pick and Pencil Industry which is undertaking test production  , but this week I want to dwell on Governor Udom Emmanuel /AKEES  building  the Agro-Allied economy in the State .

Before now, crops like tomatoes and vegetables were being imported to Akwa Ibom State from the Northern States of Nigeria, to me this was regressive. Seeing people who inhabit the desert, feeding the people who are enjoying the abundant green vegetation of the South –South Nigeria is an saddening. From season to season, the people of the South-South of Nigeria relishes green vegetation, whether is   dry season or rainy because the region is in rain forest.

Apart from the Tomatoes farms, the AKEES also plants, African eggplant, European eggplant, chili green pepper, bell pepper, hot pepper, and cabbage, onions, cucumber and water melon. Today mainstream vegetables found throughout the markets in the State are from the AKYEES farms , hence putting a stop to the capital flight of bringing these farm produce from the North .

One would also wonder why the AKEES farms are doing too well. This is possible due to improved species of the tholga tomato, roma red tomato, cobra tomato and lindo tomato. The cabbage species included the purple and green species that was imported into the State by Akwa Ibom State Government.

It is correct to say that Governor Udom Emmanuel is passionate about agriculture development and food sufficiency. His primary goal on agriculture is to create a new generation of professional farmers and agriculture entrepreneurs that would find agriculture lucrative and dependable. Governor Udom Emmanuel is convinced that one area where one can get a large number of youths to fully engage is in agriculture.

To make headway in the sector, as a people, we must break away from our over dependency on oil and gas. Governor Udom Emmanuel's passion for agro-preneurial development is creative and futuristic with massive gains on the economy.

With remarkable rise in urban populations across the country, the need for fresh foods to cater for these people is inevitable. Trends toward industrialization have left fewer entrepreneurs to concentrate on food production. It is therefore, a good sector for one to make profit, while at the same time contributing to the world population’s food supply.

The rise in food prices and the increased demand for consumables has created viable opportunities in the agricultural sector. Agriculturalists say shrewd entrepreneurs can make enough money in farming business. They note that farming incomes will rise dramatically in the next few decades, faster than those in most other industries. This, they say is because of the rise in prices of agricultural produce and the market for such items. Experts say the present day economy does not need more bankers, but more farmers.

Agriculture is a dynamic sector and it is the most critical story in our economy and has the potential to affect the future of the world positively. For decades, agriculture has been associated with production of essential food crops. At present, agriculture above and beyond farming includes forestry, dairy, fruit cultivation, poultry, bee keeping, mushroom, arbitrary, etc. Today, processing, marketing and distribution of crops and livestock products etc. are all acknowledged as part of current agriculture. Thus, agriculture could be referred to as the production, processing, promotion and distribution agricultural products. Agriculture plays a critical role in the entire life of a given economy. Agriculture is the backbone of economic system of a given country. In addition to providing food and raw material, agriculture also provides employment opportunities to very large percentage of population.

The main source livelihood of many people is agriculture. Approximately 70 % of the people directly rely on agriculture as a mean of living. This high percentage in agriculture is as a result of none development of non-agricultural activities to absorb the fast growing population. However, most people in developed countries do not engage in agriculture.

Agriculture is the main source of national income for most developing countries. However, for the developed countries, agriculture contributes a large percentage to their national income.
     

Agricultural products like sugar, tea, rice, spices, tobacco, coffee , cassava etc. constitute the major items of exports of countries that rely on agriculture. If there is smooth development practice of agriculture, imports are reduced while export increases considerably. This helps to reduce countries unfavourable balance of payments as well as saving foreign exchange. This amount may be well used to import other essential inputs, machinery, raw-material, and other infrastructure that is helpful for the support of country’s economic development and this what Udom Emmanuel government’s intend to archive through activation of profitable agriculture with concentration on exportation of products made from crops and others farm produce as direct source of raw materials and direct food to foreign countries.

Agricultural products like Cassava, Palm Oil, rice, yam , vegetables , tomatoes  etc. constitute the major items of exports of countries that rely on agriculture. If there is smooth development practice of agriculture, imports are reduced while export increases considerably. This helps to reduce countries unfavourable balance of payments as well as saving foreign exchange. This amount may be well used to import other essential inputs, machinery, raw-material, and other infrastructure that is helpful for the support of country’s economic development.

Since agriculture employs many people it contributes to economic development. As a result, the national income level as well as people’s standard of living is improved. The fast rate of development in agriculture sector offers progressive outlook as well as increased motivation for development. Hence, it aids to create good atmosphere for overall economic development of a country.

Governor Udom Emmanuel believes richly in these benefits of agriculture and at every event makes it clear to all that economic development relies on agricultural growth. Development in agriculture also increases savings. The rich farmers we see today started saving particularly after green revolution. This surplus quantity may be invested further in the agriculture sector to develop the sector.

That is why the governor is building a coconut refinery , which  20,000 hectares of land has been acquired and cleared for the planting of 15,000 special breed seedlings of coconut in Mkpat Enin. The Akwa Ibom State Government has signed a partnership agreement with a South African firm, H.J Oil Food Consulting Limited. The refinery would produce both Palm kernel and Coconut oil. 15,000 special breed seedlings have been air-freighted into the country and the technical team has commenced the management of the nursery and planting of the seedlings which will yield within 3 years. The Governor has explained that he decided to invest in Coconut because of its unquantifiable socio-economic gains and medicinal value.

The State government will be providing for farmers’ seedlings to enable them plant, harvest and provide raw material to the refinery.  And the refinery will also stop locals from selling their Coconut to people who are in the habit of coming into the State to short-change them with peanuts. The refinery, upon completion will feed pharmaceutical industries, food maker; livestock feed production and cosmetics industries and will  employ about 350,000 people when fully operational.

In other to improve the productivity of the farmers in Akwa Ibom State , the government of Udom Emmanuel is building a fertilizer plant . This project is a PPP project with Greenwell Technologies. The company is a joint venture between C and S Chemicals with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, USA and CEJ Enterprises in Greenwood, South Carolina, USA to manufacture fertilizers in Nigeria.

This project is very special to the Government as Agriculture has been the sector that attracts the most attention of the Government of the day. Agriculture generates employment for about 70% of Nigeria’s population and contributes about 40% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with crops accounting for 80%. Due to lack of local production, most of the fertilizers used in the country now are imported. The consequences of relying on imported fertilizer include drain in foreign reserve; insufficient supply due to high capital requirements for importation and consequent high retail prices for the farmers, which renders the input unaffordable.


Governor Udom Emmanuel is also making sure that  the 540,000 Egg Capacity Poultry Prime  Hatchery that would cater to the needs of poultry farmers in Akwa Ibom State and the entire South-south geo-political zone has been completed at Mbiaya in Uruan local government area of the state should start operation . Governor Udom Emmanuel is finalizing managerial agreement with some foreign investors to commence operation before the end of the year 2016 .

The Hatchery project which will solve the problem of South-South and Southeast farmers,  who are going all the way to the western and northern parts of Nigeria to hatch their birds. The Akwa Ibom State government is also planning to establish a live feed production company which will cater for the hatchery birds.

A stable agricultural sector ensures a nation of food security. The main requirement of any country is food security. Food security prevents malnourishment that has traditionally been believed to be one of the major problems faced by the developing countries and his concentration on agriculture as one major means to industrialize Akwa Ibom State Government is to guarantee food security in the State and surplus for industrialization and export. 

Most countries rely on agricultural products as well as associated industries for their main source of income. AKEES is pause to ensure  stoppage to importation of food to Akwa Ibom State and exportation of food to other States and countries.

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