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Obiano Commissions Coched Farms Project, Commences Efforts To Make Anambra Leader In Rice Production

By James Eze
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In fulfillment of his campaign promise of revolutionizing agriculture to boost food production and create jobs,the Executive Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano at the weekend, commissioned a multi-billion naira farm project in partnership with the Coscharis Group at Anaku town in Ayamelum Local Government Area of the state

Performing the opening ceremonies to mark the take-off of the project known as the Coched Farms Project, Governor Obiano assured of his administration's determination to make Anambra State the number one state in rice production in the country, starting with a projected increase in the volume of rice production in the state from the present 80,000 metric tons to 400,000 metric tons.

To speed up the achievement of this target, the governor announced that the State had commenced the distribution of 120,000 metric tons of high-yielding rice species to farmers for this year's planting season through their various cooperative societies which he noted would give the State over 300,000 metric tons of rice at harvest time.

The Coched Farm Project is a joint venture between the State government and the Coscharis Group that will lead to the cultivation of 2,500 hectares of rice per season and a production capacity of 12,000 metric tons per annum in the first phase.

Governor Obiano explained that the importance of the project would be better understood by examining its projected impact on the lives of the people. 'This enterprise will generate about 1000 full-time and seasonal jobs for youths and women across the entire rice value chain.

The farm is expected to produce 8,000 to 12,000 metric tons of paddy per annum with an expected income of N400 million to N600 million per annum from paddy when fully developed.

At an estimated market value of N140,000 per metric ton of processed rice, the expected income will be between N784 million to N1.176 billion per annum when the production and processing infrastructure are fully developed.

These estimates fall nicely into my campaign promise to Ndi Anambra that we shall drive development through agriculture to create jobs, jobs, jobs, boost our domestic economy and shore up the revenue profile of the State.'

He revealed that the State government had already committed the sum of 300 million naira to the partnership and structured the venture to benefit the community, the State and the country.

Offering insight into his administration's decision to focus on rice production, governor Obiano explained that apart from the availability of arable land, he was aware some impressive statistics which cite Nigeria as the largest consumer of rice on the continent with 6 million metric tons of rice consumed annually in the country.

According to him, half of the volume is imported while 2.8 million metric tons is produced locally, pointing out that Nigeria spends about N365 billion on importing rice annually (an average of N1 billion per day.

The governor recalled that since his inauguration on March 17, his administration has been 'consumed by the titanic effort to remake Anambra State, by planting a tree of hope in the society and nurturing it with tenderness till harvest time,' adding that the Coched Farm Project came into being as a response from industrialists and entrepreneurs whom he held discussions with at an all-important meeting of illustrious sons and daughters of the State.

According to him, Chief Cosmas Maduka, Chairman of Coscharis Group was one of those who heeded the call and resolved to support the state's wealth creation efforts with their ingenuity and finance and helped to facilitate the Coched Farm Project at Anaku.

While enjoining others to emulate Coscharis effort so that there would be many more similar investments in the agricultural sector, he disclosed that more major investors would soon be in the State to embark on commercial and mechanized agriculture in the various agricultural belts of the state which he observed would attract more agro-based industries with increased value benefits, wealth creation and employment opportunities.

The governor restated the focus of his administration on some of its set targets for agriculture in the State, three of which he named as follows: 'That Anambra State should be among the Top 3 states in agricultural production in Nigeria; That Anambra State should become No.1 in the production of Rice, Cassava and Fish in the first 4 years of his administration; and That Agriculture should contribute at least 40 percent to the GDP of Anambra State.'

He urged the people of Amaku community to give total support and cooperation to ensure the success of the venture as they would be the primary beneficiaries, warning that government would not tolerate any act that would threaten the progress of work.

Obiano described the event 'as a watershed in our collective effort to build a new Anambra State - a place where the creative energies of the people are matched by the opportunities for self-actualization.

In his own remarks, the Chairman of the Company, Chief Cosmas Maduka thanked governor Obiano for endorsing the partnership and stated that the project at full operation would provide 500 direct jobs and 2,000 indirect jobs and would extend to other parts of the State.

The industry captain observed that in addition to the rice farm, the project also has a rice mill of 20 tons per hour capacity that would provide services to local farmers.

In their separate remarks, the Chairman of Ayamelum Local Government Area, Mr. Paul Obiora and an industrialist and community leader, Chief RommyEzeonwuka of Rojenny Tourist Village Oba, noted that agriculture holds a great promise for the future of the State and commended the governor for his bold initiative to give it a pride of place in Anambra State.