Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State has reiterated his administration’s commitment to making the state an agricultural hub for investors to thrive.
Mbah made this known while unveiling the Enugu Rice at the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro industrialization complex, on Monday in Enugu.
The governor represented by his Deputy, Mr Ifeanyi Ossai, commended the Commissioner for Agriculture and Agro Industrialization, Mr Patrick Ubru for the effort he made towards making the event a reality.
He said, “I am impressed with what I see today, it is very encouraging, I commend the farmers of Enugu State and with your synergy, support and cooperation with the Enugu State government, production of rice will continue to increase for the benefit of all.
“This is the development we have been craving for as well as the growth we are praying for. Indeed, our tomorrow is here.”
He enjoined staff of the ministry to be dedicated to their duties and give their maximum support to their commissioner so that the Ministry could achieve the mandate and vision of the state towards the agricultural sector.
Mbah noted that the Enugu rice brand would grow bigger than what it was known for, stressing that Enugu would soon be known as a rice-producing state.
He explained that Enugu State was now an oil-producing state and also doing well in the Agricultural sector, saying, “This will help to reduce hunger to zero by 2031.
Earlier in his address, the commissioner for Agriculture and Agro industrialization, Hon. Patrick Nwabueze Ubru, commended the governor for his commitment to the rebirth and development of the agricultural sector.
He stated that the occasion was a testament to their collective efforts in promoting and emphasizing the authenticity and originality of the Enugu rice brand.
The commissioner stressed that it offered the state an opportunity to showcase the exceptional quality of their locally produced rice and to celebrate the hard work of the farmers.
He maintained that the launching was not only promoting the brand and the originality but also ensuring that farmers have the opportunity to make substantial sales to increase their income as well as support the farmers.
He said that the rice would be sold at the most affordable prices to make Enugu rice accessible to all to improve their livelihoods and boost their local economy.
Ubru noted that the state government had directed his ministry to ensure the establishment of more rice mills across the LGAs with comparative advantage in rice production.
“These mills will revolutionize rice processing in our State and also enhance our self-sufficiency and economic growth, with the land space of over 50,000 hectares of rice fields in different locations at Idodo-Owo-Ubagu-Amankanu-Nkerefi-Nara- Ugboka rice fields in Nkanu East LGA.
“Others are; Ibiteolo-Mgbagbu Owa rice fields in Ezeagu LGA, Oduma-Nenwe-Okpanku rice fields in Aninri LGA, Adani-Okoro-Ogurugu- Asaba rice fields in Uzo-UwaniLGA and rice fields in Isi-Uzo LGA.
He added that Mba’s vision was to feed Enugu people and make the State the food basket of the nation as demonstrated by the payment of counterpart funds for the donor agricultural assisted projects.
These payments include; the payment of seven years of arrears for Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support, Program Phase -1(ATASP-1), the initial payment for the new Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support Project (L-PRESS) and the three-year payment for IFAD-assisted Value Chain Development Programme.
Speaking, the State Programme Coordinator of IFAD-VCDP, Mr Edward Isiwu stated that some farmers in Abakiliki now come down to Nara, Nkerefi, Nomeh and Ubahu to cultivate rice on leased land which they sold as Abakiliki rice.
He appealed to the state government to provide them with some land to cultivate rice to help increase the production of rice in the state.
In her speech; the Project Coordinator of World Bank assisted Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS), Project Enugu State, Mrs Ihuoma, said more attention should be paid to cultivation and standardization of rice in Enugu
On his part, the Programme Coordinator of Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme phase-1(ATASP-1) Mr Romanus Egba, added that the primary objective of the programmes was to support farmers with the necessary inputs which include; weighing scale, fertilizer, improved seedlings and climate-smart materials.
Other dignitaries at the event were the Chairman of House Committee on Agriculture and Agro industrialization, Chief Whip and Member representing Igbo-Eze North 1 constituency, Hon. Ejike Ezeh, the Commissioner for Innovation, Science andTechnology Prince Lawrence Ezeh, the Commissioner for Rural Development, Chieftancy and Local Government Matters Hon. Okey Ogbodo, the Commissioner for Human Development Hon. Malachy Agbo.
Others are the Commissioner for Special Duties Hon. Sunday Emeka Ajogwu, former Permanent Secretary of Agriculture and Agro industrialization, Mr. Ogbonnia Idike, the ALGON Chairman, Enugu State Hon.Sydney Edeh, the chairmen of Udi, Uzo-Uwani, Ezeagu, Isi-Uzo, Aninri, among others.