Posted by FN Editor | 2 months ago | 207 times
A few years ago when Governor Okezie Ikpeazu established some cottage rice mills in some rice producing communities in the State, many people didn't appreciate what he sought to achieve then.
There are several communities in Abia State that produce rice, even in commercial quantities, especially in Abia North. These men and women who toil on their rice farms remained unsung heroes because Abia was never acknowledged as a State that produces Rice.
The reason for this clear disconnect was clear. We didn't have any rice mills here that could turn the rice paddies from our farms into the final product.
Our rice farmers had to endure the stress of conveying their rice paddies after harvest to neighboring states for milling.
Unfortunately, in measuring what quantity of rice each state produces, the statistics are taken from the rice mills and not from the rice farms.
So for this reason, Abia lost its place as a rice producing State.
This was exactly the negative trend that Ikpeazu wanted to reverse when he commenced the establishment of those cottage rice mills.
The strategy has paid off handsomely.
Today, OSIKAPA ABIA or ABIA RICE has become a household name in Abia and beyond. Abia is now fully recognized as a member of the Comity of Rice Producing States while our people who are rice farmers are now reaping more profits.
Above all, many of our young people, especially young people have now embraced rice farming and this is assuring to reverse rural-urban drift.
Owing to the tremendous success recorded by the RICE EXPERIMENT in Abia State, Govenor Okezie Ikpeazu became more emboldened and decided to voyage into other areas in the agricultural value chain.
The Governor envisioned a strategy to set up at least one small cottage agricultural industry in every local government in the State. The idea is to set up these small scale industries to encourage the production of agricultural products that are popular with each of these local government areas. In other words, each local government will get a small scale industry in the area where it enjoys natural and comparative advantages.
Like the experiment of Abia Rice, Ikpeazu's main target is to firmly establish a buzzing rural economy that thrives on agriculture and its accompanying value chain. By so doing, a new set of economically viable citizens will evolve from this process and ultimately, many of our people will return home and get meaningfully engaged.
Working with TINYTECH CORPORATION OF INDIA and with Chief Uzodinma Okpara named as main facilitator by the Governor, seven states were mapped out as pilot schemes.
How far have these projects gone?
Have we made any progress?
Are there hopes of replicating what was achieved with Abia Rice in other areas like Cassava and Oil Palm processing?
Keep a tab with us.
We will give provide you with progress reports on these.
By Onyebuchi Ememanka
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