AGRICULTURE: Udom Emmanuel taking Akwa Ibom on the path of Sustainable development
In the last 41 months and counting, Governor Emmanuel’s agenda of ensuring food sufficiency and security as well as diversification from petro-dollar to an agro-based economy has seen the light of day with sustainable agricultural projects. Ranging from the Akwa Prime Hatchery to the Coconut Plantation & Refinery project, to the resuscitation of cassava processing factories across the state, the rice processing factory, training of youths in cocoa processing; the Zoning & mapping of cocoa-producing communities in the State, sensitization and training of cocoa farmers in the 24-cocoa producing local government areas in Akwa Ibom State. Ultimately, moving the people from the act of farming to the business of farming.
Governor Udom Emmanuel believes that growing a network of farmers can inspire them to compete with big agribusiness, that’s why his administration has created an enabling environment by partnering to develop and enact good policies that has not only strengthened the Agricultural sector but has brought about food sufficiency and job opportunities.
Governor Udom Emmanuel came into power in a year where Nigeria experienced food shortage due to a multiplicity of factors ranging from a bad harvest year, and a dwindling purchasing power occasioned by the depreciating value of the Naira. Without equivocation, this leading sector of Nigeria’s economy has been put top on the agenda of his administration.
Being a proactive government, the Udom Emmanuel led administration quickly swung into action and declared a state of emergency in the agricultural sector. His aim was to put food on the table of Akwa Ibom people, and most importantly diversify from the oil-dependent economy. He refurbished and upgraded three 10mt/day cassava processing factories in the 3 Senatorial Districts of Akwa Ibom State, establish a 11000-hectare coconut plantation and refinery project, established a cocoa maintenance scheme (SCMS) for the training of farmers on pruning and shade management under brushing and tree care by fumigation to ensure the improvement of yield from 300 kilogram/hectare to 2000kg/ha over a 3 years period.
Governor Emmanuel has also facilitated the construction of 33 micro cassava processing mill to carter for the 2100 cassava plantation under the FADAMA programme, his administration has also undertaken the Zoning and mapping of the cocoa-producing communities in the State, and sensitization of cocoa farmers in the 24-cocoa producing local government areas in the State.
The Akwa Prime Hatchery and Poultry, located at Mbiaya, Uruan has dragged to the State enormous benefits that cannot be over- emphasized. Akwa Ibom has since revolutionized the production and export of eggs and other dairy products as Akwa Prime Hatchery produces 10,000-day-old chickens per week. AkwaPrime since April 2018 has crashed the price of mature broilers in the market to N1,000 per bird. With a standing stock of more than 40,000 broilers at her farm, AkwaPrime is today the biggest poultry farm in AkwaIbom State and the largest broiler farm in the region. Several youths have been gainfully employed while others are learning skills on the job.
Also, the coconut refinery project is a revenue spinner. So far, the plantation is poised to be the largest in the world and will feed raw materials to the coconut refinery. At full capacity, the refinery would process 300,000 coconuts per day. Virgin coconut oil is now hot cake in the international market and would bring in the much needed foreign exchange to Akwa Ibom as well as improve the economy of the state.
Governor Emmanuel is a leader with passion, vision, integrity, commitment, sincerity of purpose and a clear-cut determination to leave Akwa Ibom better than he met it, and has remain focused even in the face of distractions and paucity of funds. No doubt, his experience in the private sector and corporate governance, as well as the ability to attract investors has been of great benefit to Akwa Ibom state.