Uwajumogu Moves To Stimulate Rural Interest In Agriculture With Town Hall Meetings 

By Emeka Ahaneku

In a bid to sell his agricultural initiative to his constituents residing in the rural communities, the senator representing Imo north in the 8th senate of the National Assembly, Distinguished Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu has embarked on town hall meetings across Okigwe zone to stimulate agric Interest on rural dweller

This is to further sensitize rural dwellers and farmers on the need to focus on agriculture for sustainable development and to answer their questions on agric related issues and other pressing state and national issues.

Speaking at Achara autonomous community in Obowu local government and Obinulo Okwelle autonomous community in Onuimo local government area's town hall meetings recently, Uwajumogu disclosed that Nigeria’s new agricultural policy termed the “Green Alternative” is geared towards reviving the country's economy to the path of inclusive growth, attracting more youths into agribusiness, and cracking down huge import bill of the federal government.

He explained that Nigeria depended on agriculture for economic development before the discovery of oil, noting that the country's concentration on oil while abandoning agriculture was the root cause of the countries economic woes.

“Before the discovery of oil, our economy depended on agriculture and was doing well until 1978 when the presidential committee to manage the importation of rice was inaugurated. At about 1978 also, countries like Vietnam set up committees to manage production of rice in their countries and today, almost every African country imports rice from Vietnam.

" my dream and aspirations as your Senator remains to bring development to Okigwe zone, use legislation as a veritable tool to work for revitalization of moribund federal and state government abandoned projects in the zone, get the people to queue into government policies and programs that will be beneficial to the people and the zone.

" I am here today to sensitize and encourage our people to take advantage of the federal governments huge investment in the agric sector and the high demands for agricultural produce in the entire Africa due to increase in population to go into agriculture to cultivate enough food to drive away hunger in our land and sell to our neighbours in exchange for their money." Uwajumogu told the huge crowd of Obowu and Onuimo people.

On his decision to focusl on agriculture for the development of his senatorial district, Uwajumogu said Nigerian agricultural commodities and food import amounted to over one trillion naira in 2013 and 2014, with foods like rice, fish and other crops accounting for 93 percent of the total cost of imports, a situation he wants his constituents to take advantage of to turn things around in the zone.

He regretted that the huge amounts were being expended on importation of food items when the zone is blessed with arable land and the potentials to produce enough food locally and for export with it's attendant benefits in employment generation and wealth creation opportunities.

While stressing that the allocation of foreign exchange to import food items contributed in the depletion of the nations foreign reserves, Uwajumogu disclosed that his agro program was designed to create an enabling environment for agriculture to flourish in the zone again.

He said his agro initiative for Imo north senatorial district will see to the clearing of lands for farmers, rehabilitation of existing dams, creation of mood pools from perennial water bodies to encourage fish farming, as well as provide farmers with trainings and necessary inputs like seedlings fingerlings, juvenile fishes, etc with a guaranteed buy back package that will improve yield, production and income for the farmers.

According to him, the first phase of his agro program which has already kickstarted in Dioka -Nzerem, Ehime mbano local government area with the clearing of over 200 hectares of arable land is expected to be replicated in the six local governments that make up the zone and with potentials of providing more than 6000 direct jobs for skilled and unskilled youths and farmers, and another 20,000 indirect jobs for various scheme dependants.

He expressed his readiness to provide all the needed support and incentives to make his agro initiative a success. According to him also, plans are on top gear to install rice processing plants, cassava processing plants, fish drying factories and oil mills at strategic locations within the zone.

Speaking further, he said the first phase of his agro initiative will centre around fishery, poultry, rice, cassava, ginger and vegetable farming,while he will use the cooperative method, that provides that every participating farmer belongs to a cooperative society, so that as members of a cooperative society they are made stakeholders of the project.

Excited at Uwajumogu agro initiative, the traditional ruler of Achara autonomous community in Obowu local government area, Eze Ken Nnaji, commended the Imo north senator, Benjamin Uwajumogu for his intervention in the government’s efforts at providing food security for the citizenry, creating jobs and reducing dependency on food importation.

He expressed his communities readiness to provide all the needed support to make the agro initiative a success in their community, noting that his community has already commenced clearing of over 200 hectares of arable land for the takeoff of the initiative in their community.

The traditional ruler of Obinulo autonomous community, Eze. Dr Alex A Uzoma, thanked Uwajumogu for choosing Obinulo, Okwelle autonomous community as the pilot community for his agro initiative. He pledged the readiness of his community to provide all necessary support to the project.

The traditional ruler said he had no doubt in him that Uwajumogu's agro project will succeed in turing around the economy of his community, the state and the nation at large, stressing that Uwajumogu's antecedent when he was the Speaker of the Imo state House of Assembly was a pointer that his agro initiative will succeed.