Imo state government says that Nigeria will stand a better advantage than many countries in the world to compete in anything if Nigerians can hearken to the call of the Federal Government to go back to agriculture. This is as the state government has described agriculture as the number one occupation anybody can be proud of. The state government further said Nigeria is blessed with a large population, large hectares ofarable land, an emerging market economy, numerous mineral deposits, academics of world class, good climatic good etc. The Imo State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Udo Agoha made the plea in an exclusive interview with BusinessDay; saying that Imo State government has queued in with all the federal government agricultural programmes. Agoha stated that government is redirecting the mindset of Imo people to the practice of agriculture and has given various assistants to Imo people, explaining that the state government had earlier doled out N270 million to the 27 local government areas in the state to procure some hectares of land for oil palm trees as well as 3000 oil palm trees given to each of the autonomous communities. The Agric commissioner said the state government was keen in agriculture; as such the Rubber Estates at Obiti and Umuokenne in Ohaji/ Egbema Local Government Area of the state, and Emeabiam in Owerri West Local Government Area have been rehabilitated and expanded with the assistance of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for maximum production. He informed that the decades moribund Imo Poultry farm at Avutu in Obowo Local Government Area has also been revived, and restocking is going on; even as the Imo Palm Plantation (IPP) formerly called Adapalm in Ohaji/Egbema LGA has been rehabilitated to provide more job opportunities to the youths. Agoha informed that the state government, in a bid to make agriculture attractive and offer jobs for the people, has also revived the Songhai Farms, Achara Ubo Farms, and with the establishment of a thriving fish farm in Oguta Local Government Area of the state, which is estimated would produce 60,000 fingerlings yearly. “Therefore, it is wise for people to go back to farm. It is the number one occupation,” the commissioner said. He also said the state has fertile land and can grow tomatoes, grow water melon, grow cashew nuts, and engage in cassava processing, if it concentrates on it; adding that the state can generate biofuel from the cassava.
-By SABY ELEMBA, OWERRI