This was followed with a distribution of several Agro inputs for this year’s wet season farming.
The event, which took place at the Dr Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka, marked the eight farming season as well as the last flag-off of the wet farming season under Gov. Willie Obiano.
It was also a parting gift from the Governor to farmers in the state.
The agro inputs distributed include Inorganic fertilisers (NPK) and Urea, bundles of cassava stem, certified rice seedlings, certified maize seedlings, animal feeds for sheep and goats, Okro and Tomato seedlings.
Speaking on the theme: “Empowering the Youths to Engage in Agriculture for Sustainable Development’’, Gov. Obiano said his dream had been to mechanise agriculture and encourage the production of ‘Target-Crops’ for backward integration.
He adds: “today, rice production in our dear state has risen from a paltry 80,000 metric tons per annum in year 2014 to 440,000 metric tons per annum in year 2020.
“Cassava production increased from 275,832 metric tons in 2014 to 2,060,687 metric tons in 2020.
“Maize production rose from 15,902 metric tons in 2015 to 63,255 metric tons in 2020 and vegetable production increasing from 48,032 metric tons in 2015 to 321,600 metric tons in 2020.
“Land utilisation also increased in the period under review and stands at about 95,109 hectares because of influx of more people into the agriculture sector.
“Today too, our e-agriculture centre sets our state apart from other states in e-extension, farmers’ information management, traceability, transparency and accountability.
“Anambra has no fewer than 160,000 farmers and 3,000 Co-operative Societies dully registered in the Ministry of Agriculture and perhaps more importantly, most of our farmers have made a swift transition from one season farming to year-round farming with the increasing use of irrigation and adoption of global best practices in agriculture.
“We have made adequate arrangements to provide more access to capital intensive farm machineries like tractors and other equipment to our farmers,” the Governor said.
He notes: “this will enable us to meet the target of cultivating 35,000 hectares of land in this farming season.
“To achieve this, we have developed about 1,177 hectares of land for rice production; we have also commenced the construction of farm houses and 1km access roads at Ndikelionwu in Orumba South and Ogbakuba in Ogbaru LGAs under the CBN-Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme.
“As a pilot project, youths numbering no fewer than 1,000 will be selected from the three senatorial zones in the state to benefit from the programme.” Gov. Obiano said.
The Governor also said: “we hope to increase rice production from 440,000 to 525,000 metric tons in this planting season.
“We also plan to increase Cassava production from 2,060,687 to 2,139,944 metric tons and Maize from 63,255 to 74,935 metric tons.
“We have also set targets for Vegetables at 482,400 metric tons and Yam at 110,000 metric tons.”
Minister of Agriculture, Mohammed Sabo Nanono commended the Governor for embracing agricultural programmes initiated by the Federal Government, which had distinguished Anambra from other states.
The Minister was represented by the State Director of Agriculture, Mr Arthur Mbuba.
Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Nnamdi Onukwuba said that not less than 1,000 youths drawn from three Senatorial Zone of the state would be engaged in rice production in about 1,177 hectares of land developed at Ndikelionwu in Orumba North LGA and Ogbakuba in Ogbaru LGA under the ANSG/CBN-AADS Loan Scheme.
Mr Onukwuba pointed that the unfolding events in the country necessitated the increase in the production of horticultural crops — tomatoes, onions and cucumber.
Earlier, Executive Secretary, Anambra State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (ASPHCDA), Dr Chioma Ezenyimulu, while speaking at the event said that their aim was to spread the good news about COVID-19 vaccination in the state and Nigeria at large.
She expressed gratitude to the State Government for ensuring that Anambra received its COVID-19 Vaccine while urging all those who had received the first dose to endeavour to receive their second dose.
“If you took first dose of the COVID-19 Vaccine and it’s up to six weeks, endeavour to visit any COVID-19 vaccination sites which is in every LGA to receive your second dose,’’ the ES said.
Dr Ezenyimulu, then, listed all the 50 COVID-19 vaccination sites in the state while stressing that the event would go on up to July 10. “For this event, we urge all those who are due for second dose of the COVID-19 Vaccine to please visit our stand at the Ekwueme Square with their cards to receive their second,’’ she urged.