OPINION: Growing Abia economy through Agriculture

By Ikechukwu Iroha on 04/05/2018

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Growing Abia Economy through Agriculture was the theme of the event yesterday at Ahiaba Umueze in Osisioma LGA where the Abia Deputy Governor Rt.Hon.Ude Oko Chukwu flagged off the distribution of 2 million special specie of oil palm seedlings.

Further arrangement shows that each of the 17 local governments will receive 40,000 seedlings at first instance and will be available for farmers in every Local government.

Abia State Government understands the importance of palm oil. The red palm oil is a common ingredient in the cooking of almost every type of food in Nigeria. Processing the fruit into vegetable oil is a common practice by our people. Soap and cream making, biodiesel and other important products come from oil palm.

Abia State having successfully nurtured about 4 million palm seedlings in the State is leading the revitalization of this important sector. The Government plans to increase this Special tenera specie of palm seedling at Ahiaba Umueze in Osisioma LGA of the State to 7.5 million.

With what is on ground, Abia is on a flight to become a major exporter of palm oil in the country. The success recorded will lead to construction of processing plants as against manual processing techniques. Promotion of private sector participation in oil palm plantation also holds a key in effective revival of the produce.

Revitalizing old Abia palm and establishing new ones will both point at the possible expansion of oil palm plantations in the State.
Local Authorities should also provide land for oil palm farming to encourage mass production of palm oil.

Abia State through the initiative on palm will increase job of Agriculture extension officers. It will also improve revenue of the State as well as GDP of the Country. Individual farmers have access to this special specie that takes about three years to develop bunches ranging from about 9- 16 bunches at a time.

After understudying what the State is doing in Agriculture, the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe could not hide his admiration . 
During the 'Change begins with Me' initiative of the Federal Government launched in Abia State last year at the newly constructed International Conference Center, Chief Ogbe said that he thinks himself and the Governor have similarities based on their interest in Agriculture. According to him, What he saw in Abia State shows there is hope for the country. No wonder his Health counterpart Prof.Adewale applied and got over 10,000 palm seedlings all the way from Abuja.

The good news is, Abia State is leading the revolution.

We consider oil palm in Nigeria as our way of life. To some people, planting palm is part of their culture. Before we slid to importers of palm oil, Nigeria was doing well in palm production in the 80s when oil palm accounted over 40% of our production.

Nigeria and Africa used to be the hub of palm oil production. Nigeria Started early to export palm kernels in thousands of tonnes to other African Countries until the British administration took the plant to Malaysia. In 1934, Malaysia that took delivery of our plants, surpassed us to become largest exporter of the products

Many scholars have attributed some of the failures on our part to maintain the lead in exportation of palm products to the use of manual processing techniques while some view it from the angle of unavailability of land due to land tenure system.

While I agree with both parties, I also want to add that failure of the government to always build on the gains of Agriculture, led to a total neglect of this line of development. To me, Government failure to implement large scale plantations contributed in no small measure to the failure of palm oil production in the Country. I can go ahead to include funding, laziness and misplacement of priorities.

I disagree that Government can not manage plantation estates. In the light of reasons, the only one stated by researchers is that Corruption will creep in. My disagreement could be as a result of my knowledge of how things are being done in the Abia State ministry of Agriculture where transparency, orderliness and accountability have taken the first stage.

The Country has realized her mistakes of neglecting palm oil production. Nigeria needs to bounce back and Abia is spearheading the agenda.

Nwanne Ikwuola Nkwu?

 

Posted on May, 4 2018

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