Over the years, Gov. Udom Emmanuel has encouraged Akwa Ibom people to take to farming, because of its potentials in driving growth and employment. To further encourage the people of the state, the governor, last year charged his cabinet members in his speech at the thanksgiving service of the Head of Civil Service of Akwa Ibom State, Elder Effiong Essang, which was held at Luther Hall, Obot Idim, by the Lutheran Church of Nigeria to make sure that each of them has a farm.
According to the governor, who notwithstanding his busy schedule still finds time to farm, Akwa Ibom people must begin to grow what they eat.
The governor's disposition towards agriculture is in line with his policy of food sufficiency and Dakkada philosophy.
And that is where the chairman of Uruan Local Government Council, Mr. Henry Udofia, comes in with an uncommon determination to boost the internally generated revenue profile of Uruan through agriculture.
On assumption of office in 2017, Udofia met a large expanse of land uncultivated. He initiated steps to change the narrative by putting to use over 10, out of the 90 hectares of the land belonging to the council.
And the story today is that Uruan Local Government Council is leading the path in large volume crops and vegetables farming.
Conducting journalists around the various segments of the farm recently at Idu, the council headquarters, Udofia has demonstrated that watermelon, a vegetable many people believe cannot grow in Akwa Ibom can do well in the state.
On the secrets behind the successful planting of the watermelon, Udofia disclosed that being careful during the weeding in the watermelon farm and application of only organic manure would ensure a bountiful harvest.
According to the council boss, there must be a touch of training in the science and art of the cultivaton of watermelon.
What is more, watermelon is not the only vegetable cultivated on Uruan Council farm. Other crops and vegetables included sweet potato, which takes four hectares; corn, 1000 stands of pineapple, okro and varieties of pepper. There are also large plantain and coconut plantations.
Apart from generating revenue for the council, Udofia told the journalists that the council took the decision to invest in agriculture in order to encourage more unemployed youths and women to take to farming.
Expectedly, the demonstration effect has been massive, as the council has engaged more than 50 people, including youths and women in the farm.
"I am using the money we generate from the sales of our agricultural produce to pay the workers. If we did not generate enough money from the farm, there is no way we would be paying the number of people we have engaged in the farm.
" Those who are working here now have what to eat. When you have what to eat, there is a strong likelihood that you won't go and steal, he said.
In addition, Udofia disclosed that a large portion of the land has been allotted to the farm workers to cultivate so that they can produce their own food and channel the money they earn to other needs.
Indeed, the farm project speaks for itself as buyers were seen trooping into the council secretariat to buy watermelon.
The council chairman says as long as his tenure takes him, he hopes to expand the farm from 10 hectares under cultivation to cover the entire hectares.
While noting that he will continue with the fruit and vegetable cultivation, he revealed that his main target is to invest heavily in coconut plantation, to support the coconut refinery at Mkpat Enin.
Udofia says he intends to plant 1000 stands of coconut before the end of his tenure, disclosing that 200 seedlings have already been planted with more arriving.
However, the farm has been affected by theft, because there is no perimeter fence around the 90 hectares of land belonging to the council.
He said that he has tried to arrest the situation by recruiting night guards, but that has not been effective because of large expanse of land they have to cover.
The reaction of the people of Uruan to the farm programme has been encouraging. Speaking on a Radio programme recently, the chairman, Akwa Ibom State Road Maintenance Agency, Akparawa Godwin Ntuk Udeh described the investment as worthwhile.
The vice chairman of the council, Mr. Bassey Bassey, in his comments described the farm project as the realization of the vision of the council chairman to look inwards for other sources of revenue.