The Akwa Ibom government has declared its readiness to cooperate with chairmen of local government councils to develop agriculture in all its ramifications for the attainment of food sufficiency in the state.
Commissioner for agriculture and women affairs, Dr Glory Edet, made known the intention of the state government in Uyo during a public presentation of Ibom Golden Rice and exhibition, made possible by Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Ibiono Ibom Chapter, with the support of the local government council chairman, Mr EkomAbasi Akpan.
Edet, who commended the council chairman for encouraging rice farmers in the area with funds to produce Ibom Golden Rice in commercial quantity for public display, assured that the present administration would not give up on supporting council chairmen who close ranks with members of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in their areas to embark on commercial production of agricultural produce to make Akwa Ibom self-sufficient in food production.
Her words: "As a ministry, we are ready to cooperate with chairmen of local government councils and farmers in the commercial cultivation of upland and swamp rice in the state. We will make sure that we collaborate with any chairman of local government council that will want to venture into commercial cultivation of coconut and rice in the state.â€
She declared the resolve of officials in the Ministry of Agriculture to encourage every Akwa Ibom indigene, especially youths of the state, to venture into agricultural production.
Edet used the occasion to announce plans by her ministry to embark on mass cultivation of high yielding coconut species in all public schools in the state.
The development, she said, was to enhance the supply of needed raw materials to Saint Gabriel factory in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area upon commencement of production in no distant future.
The chairman, House Committee on Agriculture and Food Sufficiency in the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly, Mr Asuquo Nanah, assured that any bill to be brought before the committee on agriculture would be made to have accelerated passage into law for food sufficiency to be achieved in the state.
The chairman of Ibiono Ibom Local Government Council, Akpan, explained that his council's support for the production of Ibom Golden Rice was necessary to alleviate the hard labour on the part of farmers.
Akpan said his council had no option in supporting farmers, having realized that 2,500 hectares of Ikot Esen and Ikot Esidem lands were fertile and favourable for rice cultivation in commercial quantity.
He pleaded with the state government to consider as priority the construction of access road to Ikot Esen and Ikot Esidem communities to allow for easy evacuation of farm produce to the urban centres for patronage.
Akpan also requested the provision of what he called parboil unit and dryer by the government for easy processing and packaging of Ibom Golden Rice, declaring his council's commitment towards the continued production of more rice for the benefit of the Nigerian public.
The chairman of Abak Local Government Council, Mr Imo Williams, in his goodwill message, congratulated the Ibiono Ibom chairman for his remarkable achievement in the production of Ibom Golden Rice.
Williams was optimistic that other chairmen of councils would like to borrow a leaf from the Ibiono Ibom example so that the agric commissioner could, in no distant future, go round the state to celebrate and harvest more agricultural produce.
The RIFAN chairman for Ibiono Ibom, Mr Emmanuel Asua, said the production of Ibom Golden Rice was to prove to the people of the state that rice could be produced in commercial quantity in Ibiono Ibom.
Usua explained that the production of rice in large quantity was made possible with the assistance of his council chairman, assuring that efforts would be intensified by his members in rice production to bring down the price of the commodity to the reach of the common man in the society.
The state chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Prince Bassey Inwang, appealed to local government chairmen in the state to cooperate with farmers in the acquisition of large hectares of land for commercial farming.
Inwang pledged the resolve of his executive committee members to cooperate with the leadership and membership of RIFAN to record more successes in the state.