There are no “Farmers” in Imo State!

There are no "Farmers" in Imo State!

Darlington Chukwunyere says “Rochas indirectly, is saying there are no more farmers in Imo State”.

Honestly, over-dependency on Crude Oil can only yield worse economic meltdown than we already have on our hands. Agriculture is one of the better alternatives to crude oil and thus should […]

Honestly, over-dependency on Crude Oil can only yield worse economic meltdown than we already have on our hands. Agriculture is one of the better alternatives to crude oil and thus should be invested upon, for positive results. Therefore, the profound interest of the Okorocha-Imo government to adopt an Agric-friendly policy is a right step.

However, every right step should point to a direction, and this remains a question of two options; either to the right direction, or to the wrong direction. Every course must have two sides of the coin, and it is an unimpeachable fact that “no one can ever reconcile the two sides of the coin”. No matter the strategies used, everyone’s interest may be satisfied on maps, but never in reality.

Okorocha may have a good intention, but could it not be that he has chosen to swim against the tides with only one arm? Could it be that he had decided to send the Civil servants on an errand, with a long grocery list, and nothing to pay for the listed items? I am neither writing to reconcile the two sides of the coin nor am I writing to Right the Wrongs of anyone, I simply hope to present on this platform, a very simple message.

Three working days and two farming days? Superb! Is there a mechanism to check the compliance of the civil servants to this golden initiative? By compliance I mean, what is the guarantee that the said civil servants would be using the two marked days to engage in agricultural activities? If the civil servants are to go back to farming, considering the exigencies of the recent times, how would they cope with the global Change? What class of farming is expected of these civil servants? Are they meant to engage in commercial farming or just for their individual consumption? If Okorocha intends them to just farm to feed their families, that is absolutely a very brilliant initiative. But, if Okorocha intends to have them engage in commercial farming; from their offices to the farm, and of course to the market (supposedly to trade/export their produce) and still return to their offices effectively without cracking the rhythm of the State, then Imo might just be a Wonderland.

To me, this policy is simply saying “Imo has no farmers?” Yes. If civil servants in Imo State must abandon their duty posts and become pro-farmers, so as to salvage the dying Agric Culture in the State, then it means the already existing farmers are inefficient. Could this then be true that the great Cassava producers of Ohaji/Egbema, Ngor-Okpala, Isiala Mbano, Okigwe, Obowo, Ideato, and indeed all the 27 local governments immensely endowed with huge agricultural expertise and productivity have been existing in the dreamland?

History once had Imo to be the largest palm oil producing State in Nigeria. Presently, the best brand of the most common cassava product in the southeast is recorded from Imo state. (the fame of Ohaji Gari has actually Been before the advent of Okorocha’s government) could there not have been a better encouragement for the Imo Professional farmers, who’s handworks are evidently represented in the market stalls throughout the state?

Okorocha could do better by conducting a deep assessment of the needs of these farmers. He could improve on their output by providing technical support. The world has changed; even nature and the economy is not friendly to these local farmers who on their own, creatively strive to weather every storm of climate change and global warming. I believe they could do wonders if provided the same opportunity as their foreign counterparts across the world that enjoy profound support from their Governments. For effective and efficient practice of Agriculture, local farmers need to be empowered with access to mechanical implements (for massive production and processing), access to transparent loans as well as government Grants, and programs/policies that Insures effective marketing/distribution of farm products.

Okorocha does not need to cripple a particular sector in order to resuscitate another supposedly dying sector. Disrupting the flow of the Civil Service sector to revive the flow of the Agric sector is like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Since both parties are technically indispensible, Okorocha should invest on the pre-existing and productive farmers who are already inured to the system instead of forcing Civil servants to become farmers.

The Okorocha led administration could do better by revitalizing the pre-existing Agric industries in the State. Take for instance, the Avutu poultry. Before now, the farm (according to research results is located in Obowo LGA of Imo State) which occupies a landmass of nine plots, 200ft by 60ft, contained over 320000 birds. According to Apostle Ihesinulo one of the respondents who happens to be a patron of the ram-shackled Avutu poultry and an indigene of Obowo, “Avutu poultry once had a large maize farm, a feed mill, a hatchery, and large chilling rooms. The abattoir had capacity of 500 birds per hour, and the feed mill produced five tons of feed per hour. The volume of feed produced from the farm was enough to sustain the farm as well as remaining for export. This was due to the fact that the farm still had a very large empty space which was used for large-scale maize cultivation.” The freezing rooms were reported to have contained five tons of chicken per room, and the overall income generation of the farm per day was estimated at 3.5million naira. Thus, if governor Okorocha wishes to revive Agriculture in Imo State, he may as well think about places Like Avutu poultry and the other lost moneymaking Agric mills in the state.

Effective Farming is not an ordinary or leisure engagement, it is meant to be a full time vocation. Let those who have chosen the line of work be encouraged and supported, and let the civil servants be encouraged and supported as well. There is no need to displace anybody. Even though the results of a recent farmers’ population census by the Imo Ministry of Agriculture is yet to be released, Judging by the landmass of farm settlements in Oguta, Ngor-Okpala, Ohaji/Egbema, and the rest of the 27 local government areas of Imo state, one can evidently claim that the total number of farmers in the state is far above the population of civil servants under the payroll of the Imo state government.

I would suggest, the Okorocha led administration should empower the existing farmers and allow civil servants to face their duties. Sending them home on a two day compulsory holiday will only encourage them to abandon their duty posts for private activities.

About The Editor 438 Articles
The Editor of The Heartlander. - News & Views from Imo State, the Eastern Heartland of Nigeria

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