BY: Dikachi Elemba, in Owerri
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday commissioned the Imo State Integrated Livestock Farm at Achara-Ubo at Emekuku in Owerri North local government area, Imo State, where he called on the people to assist in protecting the farm. It was the revival of a farm that had been abandoned for over 40 years.
President Buhari who was represented by Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, said the renovation and rehabilitation of Achara Ubo Farm Estate as a training centre for the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) is also meant to provide sufficient protein through livestock and ensure food security and sufficiency for Imo people in particular and the South East in general.
Addressing the citizens and stakeholders that turned out to grace the occasion at the farm site, the governor said, “It takes a leader with the fear of God to achieve positive programmes and policies for his people,” noting that, “the renovation and activation of the farm project is a hope come through and a hope for Imo youths and Imo people.”
Uzodinma explained that by the magnitude and level of activities that will take place at the farm, “several Imo youths will be engaged and removed from crime and criminality with the provision of several jobs.”
He thanked President Buhari whom he described as “a man whose mind is always about the well-being of the people,” for acceding to his request to have the farm revived.
He said the president was passionate about the plight of Imo youths to be engaged in meaningful ventures and that is why he approved his request for the rehabilitation of Achara-Ubo, Songhai farm, Avutu poultry and Adapalm.
The governor used the opportunity to thank the executive secretary/chief executive officer of NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne for following up on the president’s directive and ensuring that the renovation of Achara-Ubo came through.
Uzodimma informed that the first 200 trainees that will work in the farm were selected from Owerri Federal Constituency and promised to give them start-up capital as graduates to engage in the various sectors of farming.
The governor, however, urged them to ensure they exhibit “the highest sense of responsibility and discipline and avoid sharp practices that may land them into trouble.” He challenged the graduates to be ready to develop themselves and bring their knowledge with an additional value chain that will attract the government to arrange for off-takers of their products.
He commended the member representing Owerri North in the Imo State House of Assembly, Philip Ejiogu who, though belongs to an opposition party, but was present at the commissioning, saying that he cares about development projects in his constituency.
Governor Uzodinma specifically thanked Ejiogu for promising to collaborate with the traditional rulers and people of his constituency to provide local security and hospitality that will protect the farm estate.
On the capacity of the farm, the governor informed that the estate is meant to house thousands of birds in six poultry houses, a reasonable number of goats, pigs, and other similar livestock, which are expected to multiply with time.
But Uzodinma regretted that the good intention of the government was initially misconstrued when enemies of the people insinuated that the farm was for RUGA settlement, saying those who biassed the minds of the people were their enemies.
He also thanked the NALDA chief executive for his promise to soon bring in another 13,000 broiler birds to maximise the capacity of the farm estate.
Anthony Mgbeahuruike, Imo State commissioner for livestock, thanked the president and Governor Uzodimma for jointly putting resources together to bring back Achara Ubo to life after 40 years of abandonment.
He noted that the NALDA project at Achara Ubo is solely to create jobs and empower the youths of Imo State through agricultural revolution as well as serve as a source of food security to the people.
He also informed that the farm currently has six poultry houses that contain about 11,000 birds, three brooding houses, three goataries with 192 goats, three piggeries containing 107 pigs, three solar bore holes, access roads to drainage systems and solar powered street lights, among others.
In his address, Prince Paul Ikonne, executive secretary/CEO, National Agricultural Land Development Authority, told the audience that “the reactivation of the farm estate is a prove that President Muhammadu Buhari means well for Imo people, saying that through NALDA 5,000 Imo indigenes will benefit from Central Bank of Nigeria NALDA programme.
He charged the trainees to take the programme seriously as the President has given them all it takes to carry on with the project.
He equally thanked the host community for their cooperation that made the realisation of the project possible and hinted that 1000 women from Imo State are to benefit from a cassava farming programme that would be sited in three locations in the state.
Philip Ejiogu, member representing Owerri North, praised Governor Uzodimma for his capacity in attracting and realising the project, noting that it is a pet project that was dear to his heart.
He, therefore, promised to provide local security and hospitality to guide and protect activities of the farm estate.