By Peter Okolie
Aguleri (Anambra) – Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra on Friday, inaugurated a Farmers Support (FS) Initiative, to eradicate extreme poverty among rural farmers in the state.
Speaking at the occasion at Aguleri in Anambra East Local Government Area, Obiano said his administration had earmarked N300 million as loans for farmers in the coming farming season.
Obiano, who was represented by the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Afam Mbanefo, expressed commitment to eradicating poverty through agriculture.
He, however, urged farmers, yet to repay their previous loans to do so.
He said participation of youths in agriculture had risen from eight per cent to 25 per cent since he became governor in March 2014.
According to him, women currently occupy over 60 per cent of the farming population, with men coming below 40 per cent, pledging 100 per cent support for the project in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the initiative is a UK-based International Development Organisation that promotes farming in Africa and Asia.
It is in collaboration with the State Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture and the State Ministry of Agriculture.
In his remarks, the International Director of FS Initiative, Mr Ikenna Offor, explained that the five-year multi-million naira project was designed to address subsistence and peasant level of farming.
“The focus is on advocacy, information, training and logistical assistance where necessary.
“We promote farming as a viable means of livelihood and an avenue of sustainable socio-economic development in developing economies.
“We plan to commence the project among farmers from Anambra East and Anambra West Local Government Areas after which other local government areas will follow,” he said.
According to him, the organisation also plans to assist farmers with grants, farm seedlings and inputs on a path to sustainable development.
“With as a little as N400, 000, I can tell you that most of these peasant farmers can be put on sustainable development and upgraded from the extreme poverty level ,” Offor said.
In his speech, the Director-General of the State Chamber of Commerce, Mr Ikechukwu Chukwumaije, expressed confidence that the project would benefit the people of the state.
He urged stakeholders to key into the project by being supportive at the various stages as part of measures to help farmers out of poverty.
Other speakers, including Chief Chika Okpala (Zebrudaya) and Prof. Chukwuemeka Omaliko, said if properly implemented, the initiative would impact positively on the security programme of the state. (NAN)