By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Itu Local Government Council in Akwa Ibom State has donated space for fifty thousand capacity Cocoa nursery bed to boost the production of the area.
The Chairman of the Council, Barr. Etetim Onuk made this known during the Itu farmers conference/workshop on cocoa production initiative, held at the Council Secretariat, Mbak Atai, on Saturday.
Onuk said the effort is also to enhance partnership with farmers towards achieving optimal harvest and guarantee the availability of affordable farm produce in the food market at all times.
He said there was urgent need for more individuals to invest in commercial farming and the subsistence planters to improve their participation to commercial levels, as the current supply is not meeting up with the demand.
The Council Boss said his administration remain committed to empowering the constituents through the introduction of capacity building workshops and training to improve farming methods, as well as ensuring the people have access to financial aid to boost their agri-businesses.
“Assuring everyone of access to sufficient, safe and affordable food that meets diverse meal and dietary preference remain top on our agenda, particularly at a time the world is grappling with the COVID-19 scourge and the resultant dwindle in food supply chain”, he stated.
He said the state government policies on agriculture have also strengthened partnership with farmers and improved funding for agri-business operators and commended the Governor for reappointing Mrs. Glory Edet as the substantive Commissioner in charge of the Ministry of Agriculture, describing it as a masterstroke that would further boost the sector.
According to him, Itu local government cannot be left behind in the emerging agricultural renaissance, as the area is blessed with vast fertile lands and swampy areas that can be used for the cultivation of several cash crops like cassava, okra, cucumber, cocoa, rice, pepper, tomato, pumpkin, coco-yam and water yam etc.
He appealed to the State Government to consider exploring the enormous land and marshy areas across Itu for the cultivation of rice and cocoa, in line with the administration’s aggressive agricultural initiative.
While urging the people to invest more in farming, Onuk lamented the continuous destruction of crops by cattle herders in some parts of the local government area, stating that the herds of cattle either consume or squash every plant on its path, maintaining that the menace of these nomadic herdsmen needs to be curbed to avoid scarcity of farm produce and preventable violent clash which could lead to loss of lives and property.
He however called on the State Ministry of Agriculture as well as Security agencies to investigate these ill activities of the Nomadic and forestall the imminent breakdown of law and order.
In his address, the Chairman of the occasion, Surv. James Iniama also encouraged farmers to ensure soil test is conducted to guide their decision of what and where to plant.
He also called for heightened collaboration between farmers and relevant agencies of the government to ensure they access and benefit from available aid programmes that would enhance their productivity.
Meanwhile, the Leader of Itu Farmers, Mr. Edidiong Akpan has commended Barr. Onuk for his continued support for farmers in the Local Government, particularly the recent donation of space for the fifty thousand capacity cocoa nursery bed which was commissioned by the Council Chairman.
He said the essence of the conference include; harnessing the elements that are necessary to drive sustainable business partnership, a greener environment and cutting-edge technology to make impact in today’s agricultural sector.
He said as farmers, they will ensure there is constant supply of high-quality farm product at all times.
A former Commissioner for Agriculture in the States, Prof. Trenchard Ibia in his conference lecture guided participants through the rudiments of farming, sustainable tips on small and medium agro-business programs, food processing and method of accessing loans.