Rivers State farmers tackle Wike over purported neglect

By CHRIS EZEONOH, Port Harcourt

Rivers State chapter of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (ALFAN) has lamented the neglect of the Agricultural sector by the Nyesom Wike-led administration in the state.

 State Chairman of ALFAN, Chief Firmobari Igwe, who spoke with The Trumpet in an interview, lamented that despite their importance to the economy, farmers’ welfare had been relegated to the background in the state and entire country.

 He particularly expressed disappointment over the Rivers State Government’s attitude towards farmers, who he said, were going through hard times across the country.

According to him, farmers needed urgent help from government to avoid food shortage and to encourage others to join the agricultural sector.

 “We are saying that farmers in the state have been totally neglected, as their welfare is not being considered. Government is not doing anything about it and it is disturbing. Without farmers or farming activities in the state, there will be no food. We appeal to the state and Federal governments to look into the welfare of farmers.

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 “The situation in Rivers State in particular should be reviewed so that we will not depend on other states for our food needs. We have fertile land all over the state and we are blessed.

 “We can plant our crops without fertiliser, but surprisingly we are still depending on other states for food supplies, which is pathetic. We have good and fertile lands in Ogoni, Omuma, Etche, Ikwerre and other parts of the state where we can plant and produce food stuffs capable of sustaining the state.

 Igwe said although the state government was trying in the aspect of commercialisation, it had not impacted grassroots farmers, adding: “When it has to do with farming or agriculture, the grassroots has to feel the impact. In our neighbouring states, their governments carry the farmers along and they are doing well, but it’s not the same here in Rivers.

 “I don’t know whether they are playing politics with it or have other people they are dealing with, because for me as Chairman of all farmers in Rivers, we have not seen anything from the state government.

  “Our main challenge has been our welfare, we have been totally neglected and it is telling on us. We just heard recently that the state government approved the training of 10,000 youths in agriculture. Our position is that if it is being done and they are sincere about it, it will take out some youths from the streets and it will boost the state’s agricultural sector.”

 On the impact of insecurity on farming, Igwe, who said agriculture remained the livelihood of every nation, any country without farmers could not survive, lamented that insecurity has really affected farming, but once the government commits to investments in agriculture, it would go a long way.

  He called on farmers in the state to use their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) wisely in the 2023 general elections and vote people who would cater for the interest of farmers in the state.

  Igwe also admonished youths to take farming seriously, because it remains the most lucrative investment, stressing: “Farming is the best business on earth. Even if you are a lawyer or practicing any profession, it is advisable to engage in farming.”

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