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$30bn GDP: Enugu gov’t has made a bold commitment on adding 300,000 hectares to our agricultural space – Ubru, Agriculture Commissioner [VIDEO]
Patrick Nwabueze Ubru, Enugu State Commissioner for Agriculture and Agro-Industrialization
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$30bn GDP: Enugu gov’t has made a bold commitment on adding 300,000 hectares to our agricultural space – Ubru, Agriculture Commissioner [VIDEO]

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Chetanne Chinelo, Enugu

The Enugu State Commissioner for Agriculture and Agro-Industrialization, Hon. Patrick Ubru has stated that the administration of Gov. Peter Mbah is keen on adding 300,000 hectares to the state’s agricultural space as part of the plans to grow Enugu’s economy from $4.4bn to $30bn within four to eight years.

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Ubru who revealed this during an exclusive interview with Pacesetter, added that quite a lot of interventions were ongoing in the agricultural sector, “most importantly for our smallholder farmers”, because according to him, “agriculture is the mainstay of any economy”.

“We understood that for us to scale up our production, we will need to get into dry season farming as is obtainable in the North. So, we introduced dry season farming and in doing that, we decided to train our farmers.

“We took rice as an example because we found out that within the Owo, Idodo, Amankanu and Ubahu axes, those places are rice belts but our small scale farmers farming there did not have the modern knowledge on how to grow rice and optimize their potentials. So, we instituted a team to teach them this and it’s still ongoing.

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“Besides that, we have also provided solar water pumping machines for them to aid the dry season farming. If you go to Nenwe, Oduma, you will see our smallholder farmers enjoying such facilities. Leveraging on the strengthened relationship we enjoy with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, we have also distributed seedlings, fertilizers to our farmers.

I want to emphasize that the state is keen on expanding its agricultural production capacity. Currently, we cultivate on 111,000 hectares of land but the state has made a bold commitment on adding 300,000 hectares to our agricultural space.

“Why do we want to do that? The state has a policy of encouraging large scale farming. In the month of March, we signed an agreement with a private investor to cultivate 15,000 hectares of land in Ikem, Isiuzo and work has commenced. He will be cultivating cassava, maize, rice, soybeans, etc.

“We have this cassava to bioethanol value chain development where we undertake an end to end approach on cassava development, from the seed multiplication to planting to harvesting to processing to different byproducts of cassava, up to bioethanol refining. The guarantee is that any cassava cultivated in Enugu state must be off taken one hundred percent.

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“Another initiative is the Special Agro-Processing Zones (SAPZ) which the Governor of Enugu State has also assured Ndi Enugu will be established in the three senatorial districts of the state. The pilot SAPZ is already coming up in Owo. We have done the feasibility study and environmental impact analysis for the take-off of the pilot SAPZ, sponsored by Africa Development Bank, other private investors and the state government.

“Yet another initiative is the Green Smart School where we’re developing smart farms so that we can teach our children, at a tender age, to embrace agriculture. In 260 Green Smart Schools, we will be having 260 smart farms”.

On what the state was doing differently to arrest the menace of food inflation, Ubru explained that the government’s approach was to expand her production base to knock down the cost of food items.

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“Once money is chasing few goods, there’s always inflation. Food inflation may also have been caused by what is known as cost-push inflation because there are a lot of things that go into production of food.

“Come to Enugu state, when you see a government that has gone head on to provide infrastructures like roads, to ease the transportation of food produced to the market, it will more than reduce the cost of food.

“When you see a governor who’s interested in providing good health facilities to enable even farmers take good care of their health and not lose some days due to sickness, it will help to reduce food inflation.

“When you see a government that is interested in educating the citizens, inclusive of farmers, to have more knowledge in producing more food, because if we expand our production base, definitely it will knock down the cost of food items.

“When you see a government encouraging everybody and every household in Enugu state to plant something even behind their compound, it will more than reduce the cost of food.

“So, a government that has a strategy, supporting its farmers, will reduce the cost of food. Once we produce what we eat here we, becoming self-sufficient, definitely the cost of food items will come down. Once you arrest the price of food items, you arrest the price of other things needed to aid life”, he noted.


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