By Tony ESIN – –
“I can tell you right now that we have just secured a facility from the central bank through our consultant to empower 3000 youths on poultry farming. We are also soliciting for scholarship for 1000 students studying agriculture in the universities and we are making plans to establish what we call public secondary schools agricultural tour,” the Special Assistant to Governor Udom Emmanuel on Project Monitoring (Agriculture), Mr Moses Armstrong said this in a radio programme monitored by propellerng.com reporter in Uyo, Thursday.
According to Mr Armstrong who won the Governor’s Aide of the Year award in project monitoring in the recently held AKWA media awards, the state government was determined to up the ante in agricultural revolution for food sufficiency and diversification of the state’s economy through various ongoing programmes and projects.
One of such programmes the veteran nollywood actor said was the agro loan programme for youths of the state which he noted will be pegged at N500,000 maximum and N150,000 minimum for the beneficiaries. He added that plans have been mapped out to monitor the implementation of the loan to prevent the beneficiaries from misusing it. “We are taking into cognizance to making sure that we don’t give the loan to people who are not credible. The forms are free, it attracts no cost and even after they acquire the form, they must have a guarantor that is well known in case anything goes wrong. When they return the forms, the facilitators will now assess the data. Those qualified at the end of it will be notified through a text message to go to bank and open an account for their loans,” he stated.
He also said that public secondary school students in the state will soon be given orientation on the rudiments of agricultural production and processes by a team of extension officers who will embark on a tour of all public secondary schools in the state.
In the area of poultry farming Mr Armstrong said with the poultry hatchery company at Uruan Local Government Area, the state will be able to produce poultry products that suffice for not just domestic consumption but for export to other parts of the world.
“We discovered that before now we have been buying our day old chicks from Ibadan and other places and that was very costly. Right now, with the hatchery on ground in Akwa Ibom State, very soon we are going to buy them very cheap here in the state. So we are going to be having a lot of poultry farmers in Akwa Ibom State because with the modern technology we can have good birds,” he observed.
Away from making available day old chicken for farmers, he said the hatchery is considering having a depot where further value chain processes in poultry production will be developed, adding that the facility is also being used for training of people who would become good poultry farmers in the near future.
He noted that the state government was considering value chain production in various aspects of agricultural practice in the state. “His Excellency’s drive is particularly on value chain. He is making sure that those products are recycled in so many other aspects to give us more value and more. Right now at Ikot Okudom in Eket where we have the demonstration farm for cassava, the cassava processing plant is in progress right now. The last time I visited, they produced flour for bread and a lot of things have been done,” he explained.
The governor’s aide explained that the state was advancing in tomato production with ongoing training of about 1000 youths in tomato planting and processing, adding that with the development it was odds on that the state will soon become number one in tomato production in the south-south region of the country.
Explaining why he was passionate about agricultural development at the grassroots Mr Amrstrong said: “Actually before the appointment, I was very close to nature itself. So I know what it takes to raise crops, to raise food for the family and the community. That is why when I came in as the SA to the governor I decided to go back home to see exactly what the problems are with the grassroots farmers to ensure that we empower them in order to have the long anticipated agricultural revolution realized in the state,” he noted.