Umuahia – Abia Government has promised to assist farmers to access loans to increase agricultural production in the state.
Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu made the promise on Friday during the inauguration of the 2016 Cropping Season at Mbalano, the headquarters of Isuikwuato Local Government Area of the state.
Ikpeazu was represented at the event by his deputy, Chief Ude Oko-Chukwu, a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Umuahia by Nkasi Akomah, Director of Information in the Office of the Deputy Governor, has said.
He further promised that the state government would also assist farmers with farm inputs, pest and disease control services and education on how to use the materials.
Ikpeazu gave the assurance that his government would initiate policies and programmes to drive agriculture to achieve food production, economic development, employment generation and wealth creation.
He promised to rehabilitate moribund farm settlements in the state in order to make Abia the food basket of the nation.
He described agriculture as “a viable alternative to petroleum as a major export commodity to shore up the country’s foreign earnings and stabilise the economy.“
While underscoring the importance of agriculture, the governor said the sector employs 60 per cent of the people and contributes about 35 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.
In his speech, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Chief Uzor Azubuike, said the ministry would strengthen agricultural extension system and provide farm inputs at subsidised rate to farmers.
He said the ministry would create an enabling environment for farmers “to produce more food, process their produce and create jobs across all the value chain. “
The state Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Chief Dunlop Okoro, appealed to the state and Federal Governments to come to the aid of farmers in the state.
Okoro urged government to give agricultural credit facility, inputs and fertiliser to farmers to enable them to increase their output this farming season.
The event with the theme: “Abia economy, agriculture to the rescue, “ featured the exhibition of different farm produce by the 17 Local Government Areas and farmers’ associations. (NAN)