AKSG STEPS UP EFFORTS ON FARMERS DATABASE
…embarks on an assessment tour of communities in Akwa Ibom State
Akwa Ibom State Government has scaled up efforts towards a successful enumeration of all farmers in the state. The statewide farmers’ enumeration exercise which flagged-off last month by Governor Udom Emmanuel, has continued to gain traction in over 2600 villages of the State, even as the State Government through the Directorate of Agricultural Investments, Akwa Ibom Investment Corporation (AKICORP) urged field data collectors and their supervisors in all local government areas, to ensure that no farmer in any community was left out of the exercise.
In an ongoing tour of local government areas that commenced late last week, the Directorate, led by the Executive Director and his Deputy, Pastor Umo Eno and Mr. Ofonmbuk Nelson, accompanied by a member of Technical Committee on Agriculture and Food Sufficiency, Mr. Gabriel Nkannang, to conduct on the spot assessment of the progress recorded so far in the communities, the Directorate in her bid to boost the confidence of farmers in the exercise, appealed to chairmen of local government areas to take agricultural investment, especially the enumeration of farmers in their domains as a priority. According to the Directorate, agriculture occupies a prime place in the completion agenda of the Udom Emmanuel administration.
The appeal, according to the Directorate, became necessary due to non-involvement and lack of corporation amongst some local government chairmen on the farmers’ enumeration programme.
At Ibiono Ibom, Itu, Ikot Ekpene, Nsit Ubim, Nsit Ibom and Etinan, the Directorate restated the importance of data of farmers, which among others, would attract funds from Central Bank of Nigeria and global agencies supporting and repositioning agriculture as the mainstay of many economies; as the world continues to witness a fall in prices of crude oil.
The chairman of Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area, Hon. Ekomabasi Akpan, who heartily received the team, thanked the Governor Udom Emmanuel for embarking on farmer data-capturing exercise. He said the initiative would help to improve the productivity of farmers in his area, thereby boosting food sufficiency. He threw his weight behind the exercise and vowed to mobilize more farmers in Ibiono Ibom for the exercise.
At Nsit Ubiim, the Executive Director, Pastor Umo Eno, solicited the support of the chairman, Hon. Udemeabasi Sylvanus Bassey, in turning the attention of his people to an agriculture-based economy by directly involving farmers in the data-capturing exercise.
Pastor Umo Eno, who also hails from Nsit Ubium, reiterated that the exercise would directly benefit registered farmers and that those left out may not access government support and grants from donor agencies.
He frowned at the attitude of some community leaders who were alleged to make the enumeration process difficult by not signing enumeration forms in time. He enjoined traditional fathers to assist farmers in their communities to get enrolled into the programme so that they would become eligible to benefit from agriculture development funds of the State and Federal Government.
The exercise, he explained, would enable government and investors to know the types of crops, their tonnage, and their value chain, so that supports be channeled accordingly. Besides, it would help increase food production in line with the Governor’s determination to ensure that 80 percent of foods consumed in Akwa Ibom is produced within.
Re-emphasizing Governor Udom Emmanuel’s commitment to ensuring that Akwa Ibom farmers access financial privileges accorded farmers from other parts of the country, Mr. Gabriel Nkannang, a member of the Technical Committee on Agriculture and Food Sufficiency, explained that funds for agricultural development in the country were ready at the Central Bank of Nigeria and that while others have accessed such funds, Akwa Ibom State could not because it has no database of farmers. CBN, for instance, he said was expecting a database of farmers, specifying types of crops, the tonnage of yields per crops and the value chain potential so that donor agencies would plan financial assistance based on what was available in the state.
Mr. Nkannang made a passionate plea to Akwa Ibom farmers to embrace the enumeration exercise, assuring that the government of Udom Emmanuel was determined to exploit opportunity in farming to improve food sufficiency and wealth creation for the citizens and also position Akwa Ibom State as a viable agriculture-based economy in the country.
In his response, chairman of Nsit Ubium local government area, Hon. Udemeabasi Sylvanus Bassey reassured the visiting team of the full support of Nsit Ubium people. Describing himself as a farmer, Bassey said the wealth of Nsit Ubium people was in farming and restated his commitment to mobilize farmers to enroll in the exercise.
At a stop at Nsit Ibom, the directorate met the chairman of the local government area, Hon. Eric Effiong Akpan and his counsellors who vowed to mobilize farmers in their domains to participate in the exercise. Akpan pointed out that farmers’ apathy towards the enumeration exercise stemmed from previous failed attempts but that he and his counsellors have mounted sensitization efforts to educate farmers on the necessity of participating in the ongoing exercise.
The effort, the chairman said, was yielding good response because, according to him, Governor Udom Emmanuel was a man of integrity and that he was convinced farmers would access support to leverage opportunities in agriculture. Akpan added: “We will partner the Directorate of Agricultural Investments and work closely with them so that when the funds are drawn, our people will also benefit from it.”
The assessment team also visited Etinan, Ikot Ekpene, Itu and Ibiono Ibom local government areas, where further sensitization efforts were advanced for the successful completion of farmers data-capturing this month.
Our correspondent who monitored the assessment tour noted that the exercise has so far yielded good results as hundreds of farmers are already enrolled. However, requirements like bank accounts and valid identification card for rural-based farmers were challenging. But the Executive Director, Pastor Umo Eno, explained that bank account number and valid identification were necessary because fund and other assistance would be made directly to the account of each farmer and not through intermediaries.
He said: “I want to appeal to village heads and enumerators to work together so that no farmer in their communities is left out. This exercise is to bring benefit directly to the farmers listed in the database, and if you leave out anyone in your communities; how will you explain to the person when others are receiving supports from the government?”
He noted that after this first phase of the enumeration exercise, he was not certain the government would conduct another enumeration soon. Consequently, he enjoined Akwa Ibom farmers to seize this opportunity and get enumerated.
Meanwhile, top public and private individuals who own farms are also enrolling in the exercise. Of particular note was the enumeration of Governor Udom Emmanuel, his wife, Dr. Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel, the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Godwin Abraham, Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, Commissioner for Agriculture and Women Affairs, Dr. Glory Edet, Head of Service, Elder Effiong Essien, and clusters of farmers from cooperative organizations.