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NALDA commissions integrated farm estates in Imo

Executive secretary of NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne while commissioning the Achara-Ubo Emekuku integrated farm estate in Imo state. Photo: Zaccheaus Babalola

The National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) has commissioned Achara-Ubo Emekuku Integrated Farm Estate in Imo State.

This is coming as the executive secretary of NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne disclosed that the federal government has also approved the rehabilitation of Songhai Farm and the establishment of 3 new cassava processing plants in Imo State.

Prince Ikonne also said President Muhammadu Buhari has given the nod for the empowerment of 1000 Imo women in cassava production, 5000 men to benefit from NALDA’s, Central Bank project, and N3 million CBN resolving loan to the productive beneficiaries to sustain their farms.

The Achara-Ubo farm which is located in Owerri North local government area sits on 35 hectares of arable land with 6 poultry houses with 18 pens that contain about 10,000 birds, 3 goat houses with 196 goats, and 3 piggeries containing 108 pigs.

It also boasts 3 solar-powered boreholes, access roads and drainage, and solar-powered street lights on the farm.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration vision

Speaking to newsmen while commissioning the estate, Prince Ikonne said the project was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration vision to create jobs for the youth and women to ensure food security.

He added that the farm will give 600 direct engagement to farmers in poultry, piggery, and goatry while 200 additional farmers will be engaged in the processing, packaging, and export.

“Achara-Ubo farm is expected to take in 600 farmers, the processing and packaging section will soon start, which will take in additional 200 people and the crop section will soon start because we have provided the tractors.

“This farm will be a centre that will train farmers within and outside the Imo State and the 200 beneficiaries have been trained and empowered with the knowledge and they are the first set of people to benefit from this project and as they pass out in the next 6 months, they will sort their own farming activities and another set of people will come in.

The activation of this farm is one of the ways to demonstrate the passion of President Muhammadu Buhari in terms of agriculture, he said.

He added, “This farm was abandoned for 30 solid years and NALDA took over and developed it, the farm is purely the desire of President Muhammadu Buhari to reactivate and reform the farm estate across the country because the president believes that going back to the land is the only way our economy can be sustained and our youth will be gainfully employed to achieve food security and we are very hopeful that the farm will be very productive and that the farmers will begin to earn income.

The direct engagement is about 600 farmers into the poultry, piggery and goatry and an additional 200 farmers into the processing, packaging, and export because we have processing plant here that is coming up”.

He maintained that the first year of the entire project, approximately 1,000 farmers will be engaged in the area of animal husbandry, processed and packaged.

Training ground for youth

On capacity building, the executive secretary said, “The good thing is that this place will turn as a training ground for the youths in Imo State as they pass through one year here and they will be established and we are partnering with the Central Bank of Nigeria to give them support, a grant that they will use to establish their own farms, so for the first one year they will be here, they will get the technical knowledge, they will know how to rear their own animals and then the central bank grant comes in to support their projects.

The grant is across the country and we are looking at 3 million naira per farmer and it is a revolving loan as they are productive, So with that, you will see that the number of the unemployment will reduce in the state and across the country”.

To ensure its sustainability, Prince Ikonne noted that the project will be handed over to the community to take its ownership for proper management.

He said, “so I charged the beneficiaries to take the project seriously as you passed out, you will get this soft support facility from the Central Bank of Nigeria that will help you start your own project, the enabling environment is given to NALDA to reactivate this farm is encouraging, so farmers, women and youth it is time for us go to back to the farm because that is the only way we stay safe in the near future, create jobs and provide food security”.

He added that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of 3 cassava processing plants in Imo State which will engage 1000 women this farming season to enable more Garri production and feed for the animals.

Additionally, the NALDA boss also revealed President Muhammadu Buhari has also approved the rehabilitation of Songhai Farm and about 5000 Imo men are to benefit from NALDA’s, Central Bank project.

Meanwhile, some of the beneficiaries of the project who spoke to journalists at the farm applauded the federal government for resuscitating the moribund farm estate.

They said the training has helped them gain first-hand knowledge in animal husbandry.

One of the beneficiaries, Agba Kingsley, head of goatry department who left block industry to join the farm said he found farming more lucrative.

While calling on young Nigerians to embrace farming, Kingsley said, “Government is doing good by establishing the farm and the business is profitable, so if Nigerian youth have interest in farming, the outcome will be profitable for them, they should join us”.

Another beneficiary at the poultry section, Nnadi Chioma Sylvia said the business has helped her employ additional 10 people.

Sylvia said, “The farm has helped my family, and being part of this is a great opportunity and when people see me now, it’s obvious they will know that I am benefiting and I have engaged 10 people”.

Similarly, NALDA’s project coordinator, Imo State, Emeka Ugwunali expressed hope that the project will help the host community and beneficiaries to improve their well-being.

Delivering his speech during the launch, Imo State governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma said the project will be sustained through local security and several pieces of training that will put a larger number of beneficiaries on the track of sustainable animal husbandry.

He said The partnership with NALDA is to enable the federal government to bring more equipment to enable off-takers to take our products to the appropriate market and thereby making us earn more income and increasing our internally generated revenue.

The governor said the state government in collaboration with the federal government will invest N18 billion for the rival of a similar moribund to Songhai Farm.

“I want to thank NALDA for the wonderful work they are doing”, he said.

Reporting by Zaccheaus Babalola; Editing by Abdullahi Lamino