After 23 years of pioneering hospitality business in Eket and creating multiple employment opportunities for hundreds of citizens, Umo Eno now leads the push for agricultural revolution in Akwa Ibom State. And expectations are rife that with his successful career in the private sector, he would bring his wealth of experience into public service, particularly in wealth creation and empowerment of the people through agriculture, which is his primary area of attention.

Agriculture had always been relevant in the economy of Akwa Ibom but the Udom Emmanuel administration saw the urgency to make it a prime economic development focus area by creating a new Directorate of Agricultural Investments in Akwa Ibom Investment Corporation (AKICORP) with Pastor Umo Eno as the pioneer Executive Director. 

His responsibilities, among others, are to help the Akwa Ibom State Government coordinate all agricultural investments, appraise all agricultural investment proposals and coordinate the implementation of agricultural investments in the State; the goal is to attract and promote domestic capital mobilization and foreign investment for agricultural development in the State and boost food sufficiency and food security. This new direction in agricultural investments is part of the completion agenda development programmes of the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel.

To properly evaluate the situation in the sector, the new Directorate brought together primary stakeholders in agriculture and investments, including the Ministry of Agriculture and Women Affairs, Technical Committee on Agriculture and Food Sufficiency, Technical Committee on Foreign Direct Investments, Ministry of Trade and Investments, Ministry of Land and Physical Planning for a two day Inter-Agency Retreat on Agricultural Investments.  

Declaring open the retreat, Governor Udom Emmanuel praised the Directorate of Agricultural Investments for the initiative and urged all members of the State Executive Council and Akwa Ibom Citizens to own a farm. According to him, the State was evergreen all year round with adequate rainfall, assuring that foods like plantain, banana, pepper, okra and garri could be produced enough in the state to feed her citizens. The Governor, however, stressed the imperative for collaboration of all agencies involved in Agriculture in order to move agricultural investment in the State forward and cautioned against rivalry among the agencies.

A communique issued at the end of the retreat recommended, inter alia, building of a comprehensive database of all farmers in the state and a One-Stop Agricultural Investments Committee, chaired by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem and the Executive Director, Agricultural Investments, Pastor Umo Eno, as Secretary, to coordinate the inputs from Inter-Agency on Agricultural Investments. The goal is to ensure that all agricultural projects of the Udom Emmanuel administration have become full-fledged business entities.

Additionally, the Executive Director and his team have been visiting the farms to assess the development and conducting potential investors around the farms. But perhaps the most important and tasking assignment of the Directorate is building a formidable and dependable database for the state. At the training of supervisors for the enumeration exercise, he stated that data of all farmers and their produce in the state was the bedrock for success in agricultural investments.  Supervisors and enumerators for data collection were drawn from Akwa Ibom Agricultural Development Programme (AKADEP), All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Akwa Ibom State chapter. Already, a statewide collation of farmers’ information has begun, with enumerators visiting all villages in the state.

According to the Executive Director, the enumeration exercise ass the first properly coordinated effort by the Akwa Ibom State Government to capture farmers’ information. He explained that the farmers’ database will enable farmers access supports from government and donor agencies. He lamented that non-availability of comprehensive farmer data in the state had limited farmers access to agriculture development funds in banks, acquisition of farm equipment and engagement of agriculture-based technology in farming.

Pastor Umo Eno urged all farmers to avail themselves of the enumeration opportunity, while appealing to community heads to cooperate with enumerators in their domains to ensure appropriate information was collected. 

Meanwhile, it is expected that the database will provide accurate information on farmers, size of farms, types of crops, locations and tonnage of yields. With the database, Government and potential investors can reach out to farmers in the hinterland and provide incentives like fertilizers, loans and also offtake their produce at profit.

Umo Eno is adept in strategic planning and corporate administration with MSc in Political Science. In 1997, he established Royalty Hotels and Recreations Limited in Eket, Akwa Ibom State, to provide specialized hospitality services. The company has since morphed into a group with leading brands in foods and beverages. He has since the appointment appointed a new CEO for the group.

Quest News 24

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