AKSG Sets Aside N8bn For Agric In 2011
20 Oct 2011
The Akwa Ibom State Government has appropriated N8 billion for agricultural development in the 2011 fiscal year. The commissioner for agriculture and natural resources, Obong Eno Akpa, who made this known in a special broadcast to mark the 2011 World Food Day celebration Sunday, 16th Oct 2011 said in recognition of the threats that food prices and instability pose, the government had initiated many schemes that would generate interest in agricultural production, increase income and raise the standard of living of its citizens.
The commissioner listed programmes earmarked in the fiscal year to tackle the food crisis to include N2 billion for Women Agro Entrepreneurship Development Programme (WAEDEP) in which 4,500 women would be given N250,000 each to embark on agro-production and agro-trading. Others are: Integrated Farmers Scheme (IFS), with 1,200 youths currently on two months training programme preparatory to their empowerment with N500,000, bringing the number of beneficiary to 40,000 between 2007-2011.
He further mentioned that the Ibom Rice Development Programme of the state government would mobilize rice farmers in the state to ensure that Ibom rice gets to the market soonest while numerous farms have been identified with farmers for motivation through the out-grower scheme. The Accelerated Live Stock and Fish Production Programme (ALFIPP), he said, would harness numerous water body systems for fish cage culture and inland fisheries development while the hatchery plant for the production of 90,000 day old chicks was under construction at Mbiaya Uruan, with plans to establish same in the other two senatorial districts.
Akpan informed that a strategic food reserve centre had been acquired at Abak at the cost of N1.5 billion for processing and storage of agricultural produce in the state. He assured that at completion of the centre, food wastages often experienced would be taken care of. He also stated that a programme aimed at transforming the sector from subsistence production-driven to market-driven agric business, using the whole value chain approach, called Agro-Value Addition and Agric Business Development Programme was being planned.
The commissioner explained that the programme would go a long way to enhance the training of processors to produce process and package products for markets. Others include: horticulture development, development of school farms programme, with Young Farmers Club and prompt payment of counter-part funds in the donor support programmes, such as FADAMA, Rural Finance Institution-Building Programme and Community-Based Natural Resources Management Based Programme (CBNRMP), which are supported by the Federal Government, World Bank and other agencies for the benefit of Akwa Ibom farmers.
Mr. Akpan noted that between 2005 and 2008, world staple food prices soared to the highest levels in 30 years, while in the last 18 months maize prices increased by 74%, with rice almost tripling by 166%, causing food riots in over 20 countries across the world. The price swings, he said, represent a major threat to food security in developing nations, with the poor ones hard hit. He reasoned that Akwa Ibom had not been spared in the crisis as food prices had been unstable, causing negative impacts.
Akpan hinted on the theme of the year’ celebration; ‘Food Price from Crisis to Stability’, and noted that the theme evoked challenges from humanity to look at the causes of food crisis in the world and the role of price stability in food supplies. He reiterated that the theme sheds light on the unabated trend of soaring food prices and the urgent need to address the situation and mitigate the impact on the most vulnerable population. The commissioner extended the government’s invitation to private sector, corporate organizations, international development agencies and stakeholders to partner it to increase food production, stabilize food prices and ensure food security in the state.