The Anambra Government has concluded plans to invest over N2 billion on land development, provision of facilities and inputs to farmers in the 2019 farming season.
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra made the disclosure at the commemoration of 2018 World Food Day and formal launching of dry farming season in Onitsha on Thursday.
The theme for this year’s World Food Day was: ‘Our Action is Our Future; Zero Hunger is Possible’.
Obiano explained that the state government plans to invest N1.5 billion for the development of 5,000 hectares of land.
He said N383 million would be for the provision of facilities to small holder farmers, through the Anambra Small Business Agency, while N195 million would be expended on agricultural inputs.
He said: “We are finalising our plans to access the N3.5 billion Central Bank of Nigeria facility for Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme and Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme.
“We are currently developing other agricultural schemes with NIRSAL to ensure that the set targets on rice, cassava and fish value chains are achieved.
“We have also fine-tuned our plan for sustained export activities on yam, sweet potatoes, cocoyam and vegetables.
“To deepen efforts at mechanising agriculture in 2019, we have made adequate arrangements to provide better access to capital-intensive farm machineries, including tractors and other equipment to our farmers.”
He urged small holder farmers to register with the state Ministry of Agriculture and apply for funds from ASBA.
The governor also urged communities to allocate and designate lands, specifically for agricultural purposes, for use within the communities for the youths and women farmers.
He said that his government had also evolved a comprehensive four-year development plan for different agricultural produce and farm types.
According to him, the strategy will help in increasing productivity, land utilisation and encourage the best practices that will lead to increased yield.
The governor said more people embraced farming in 2018, noting that over 1, 000 new farmers were duly registered within the period of seven months to bring the number from 109,137 in 2017 to 110,144 farmers.
Obiano said: “Similarly, rice production rose from 244,235 metric tons in 2016 to 345,000 metric tons in 2017 and stands at 440,000 metric tons by the end 2018.
“Cassava production shot up from 1,792, 596 metric tons in 2016 to 1,881,589 metric tons in 2017, while maize production increased from 39,902 metric tons to 43,521 metric tons in the last planting season.
“Land utilisation also increased in the period under review due to the influx of more people into agriculture.”
However, Obiano said his administration’s projections for this year’s planting season were adversely affected by the recent flood disaster that swept through some parts of the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that at least 49,000 hectares of farmlands were affected by the flood.
He said: “Other factors that affected our performance in the last planting season included the fact that we had very little access to agricultural funds.
“And farmers, who took loan did not show enough enthusiasm to repay them.”
Earlier, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Afam Mbanefo, commended the governor on his vision to develop farming as a business and empowering farmers in the state.
The governor also used the occasion to inaugurate an agricultural scheme called: ‘Healthy Farm, Healthy Farmer Scheme’.
The scheme aims at checking the influx of contaminated produce into markets, boost post-harvest storage and various levels of preservation of produce.