As Ebonyi is chosen on CBN program to multiple fish, Umahi’s Aide Advocates for Integrated Farming
By Victor Nwegede
As Ebonyi state was chosen on Central Bank of Nigeria programme to embark on fish multiplication in the country, the Senior Special Assistant to Ebonyi State Governor, Hon. Bede Johnson Nwali has called farmers to combine the practices of livestock and crop farming at the same time in order to enhance agriculture and economic statue of the state.
Barr. Bede Johnson Nwali made this call today while briefing journalists on the need of livestock production in Ebonyi State and other part of Nigeria at Akanu Ibiam International Conference Centre, Abakaliki. According to him, farmers should not take their occupation for granted, saying that the technological change has negatively affected crude oil price, leading to its price crashing these days.
The former Ebonyi State Lawmaker observed that livestock production and other aspects of agriculture practices have chances of competing crude oil in no distant future in the international markets.
Hear him: Livestock production is a very important aspect of our economic life. In livestock production, we talk about the raising of animals consumed by man and from which we get certain things to satisfy other human needs. One, nutritionally; we need balanced diet to function for your mental development, physical health and every other thing. Definitely, from our primary school days, we hear things like kwashiorkor, So, you need to take foods in a balanced proportion for you to maintain adequate health. We have in the same vein, geared effort to crop farming and production, which is very essential. But from the beginning when God created all these things, He did not give us only the crops. He made available animals for human use, for production and control. He created them before creating man to ensure those things will be there for his use. They become the foundation of human survival. Now, without adequate protein intake which we derive from livestock, consumption of animals that form the part of livestock production. It is true that we also get protein by eating some crops like beans, but the need of animals in a desire proportion for protein cannot be overemphasized.
So, nutritionally, we need livestock. Economically, today we can see for instance, there is almost crisis in the international oil markets. You can see how the price of crude oil has crashed. Some said, it was as a result of the power tussle between major powers, Russia and maybe, one of the Arab counties. All we know is that there is international dynamism that affects how we sell our oil. Even before the power tussle said to be the cause, we realised that oil has not been able to fetch us what we use to get. The crude oil price per barrell has even fallen before now, and it has crashed as well. It is of essence that we remember that oil is a kind of reservoir. It is something you have in the bank, the more you consume from it, the more it becomes water and it will be dipleting. And this was built with millions of Naira. This simply entails that a time will reach when our oil reservoir may have been exhausted. But there exists what is call a revolution in a kind of a technological development, the advances in technologies so valued in agriculture, where livestock and relatively others are seen by people with vision, that, it remains an alternative viable system to crude oil in the markets.
“For example, today, you can see we have now streetlight in Ebonyi state, credit to our dynamic Governor, that at automatically it can switch on. It uses solar energy. Also today, our Governor has equally introduced electric charged vehicles,that is the tricycle, likewise, tomorrow we may have here vehicles that run on solar as far as the sun shines. These are advances in technology. Even before now, the development on hydro-energization, we used to have the wind-meals in some of the European countries, I think the Holland was one of them. From there, they source energy, so many other means. In other words, our machineries, which were built to depend on oil as energy source will one day to our greatest surprise in one morning as we wake up from our sleeping beds, the Westerns may say to Nigeria or Africa, goodbye with your oil, enjoy your oil. It is because they may no longer depend on it. So, the time is coming and that is why when His Excellency and our dynamic Governor, Engineer Chief David Nweze Umahi delivered his exemplary and motivating lecture at the University of Nigeria, Nsuka during their convocation last year on preparing Ebonyi State for oil based economy, the world stood up. And they realized that here in Ebonyi State, we have a man who is really prepared for what those that have sight already forseen likely happened to us in no distant future.
As our people say in Igbo language, ‘na agha adiri eri onye kweru nkwucha’, meaning, ‘the battle doesn’t consume the prepared’. Because, a time will come you will be needed to play that strategies you have a store of armoury and having prepared your people, you will not be taken unawares. So, Governor David Nweze Umahi has realized that we have to position ourselves for the time that our oil is not coming, even supposing that oil will last forever. It is never good to depend your revenue source on just one. It is always good as he used to tell us here in Ebonyi State especially the politicians, that, we ought to have a second address. It is because, supposing over the years we have been using agrio-ages during the oil boom, to exert it in agriculture adequately, before this time, a very example of agricultural revolution would have taken a place. The oil industry today, how many people will it employ. But in agriculture, you will find out that almost everybody will be gainfully employed. Either you are in it on your own or you are working for agricultural firms. You may be into subsistence or large scale farming. Agriculture is equally a business, not only that you can eat, because most of things we consume, buy are from the European countries, the Western world. Go to any provision store, most of their consumable items are processed from agricultural outputs. It means that as we get advanced, it will not be on only agricultural production, we get into processing from there, we get into export, and so many others.
“Let us take the poultry business from instance, do you realize that some people just see the aspect as raising birds, either broiler, layers for egg laying. Have you ever imagined the quantity of the feeds consumed by this? It is people that produced them and most of those things seen as the feeds are made from other aspects of agriculture, that is the crop agriculture, and even aqua culture. As we are going into this we equally encourage people to engage in other parts. It is because we use this thing to stimulate the feed. That is why today we even preach and encourage people to practice an integrated agriculture or farming. Our state government sees integrated farming as a very profitable agrio-business. That, as you are into livestock, you still have a little crop farm by the side. This helps alot as what you get from your farm, for instance, your cassava farm can be used to feed your livestock, despite, you may have called it a waste. You can only push them, for instance to your pig farm, and they will consume them, as they consume them, they have their droppings. Because, naturally, as a living thing, pig and other livestock can defecate, and pig manure is very rich organic manure. Then you still take them back to your crop farm. You see how God created the world and that is how it supposed to be. As we venture into livestock agriculture, livestock production invariably, we are equally promoting crop agriculture because there will be hardly have any waste in such combination in the farming system. Your waste from crop is useful in livestock production. Then, things you may regard as waste from livestock production becomes manure for the crop production. Meanwhile, here in Ebonyi state, our Governor is much interested in livestock production. Livestock in my assessment has the chances of competing oil in the international markets. Every body needs it, if care is not taken and looking at the sporadic change of technology, livestock production can replace oil well in no distant future”.
Hon. Nwali further harped on the challenges of farmers on livestock production in the state. He said that alot has been done to promote livestock farming and production in the state. “Unfortunately, before the administration of our able Governor, Engr. Chief David Nweze Umahi, we have hatchery here. The place was virtually collapsed. His Excellency, Governor David Nweze Umahi is really interested in putting the place back to its original statue and even getting it more advanced. Before long, you will see development going on there and even as we speak, there are still productive activities going on there. Like now, as we prepare for Easter, you can go there to buy your broiler at a very good rate. People buy their eggs there but we are looking towards that very soon hatchery section will be fully on function so that, not only in Ebonyi state but the southeast and neighbouring states like cross River, Benue will not be going to Ibadan or southwest to buy their chicken. A lot is going on, the experts have equally been at that place, and the feasibility study has been done, and government will soon take the final decision on whether to bring in the investors or to go on their own. They have done the rudimentary work, then, the other livestock business like any other business, involves many challenges. One, you have to be hardworking, money does not fall from the tree, and two, you have to be patient. And in any business, you need capital. How do you get capital? You have to save the little you get, instead of sitting in a bar every evening and being taking about two or three bottles of beer, you can take one and the money for the other two and more savings made so far will be use to modify yourself, like engaging on a meaningful business of this kind. That is to say by gradually, you are building capital, and then, beyond that; the government is equally interested in economic empowerment of the people of Ebonyi State. There is a new school known as Agricultural Vocational School at Ezzamgbo in Ohaukwu Local Government Area in this State. They will soon start academic activities, the Governor has called people of this state to come there and learn agriculture. Teaching is almost free. They will teach about livestock production, raising of animals in school, some call it animal husbandry. They will equally teach you crop sciences, feedmaking, agric-preneurship or agric-business. Because the Governor has said it is not all about giving the people money will solve our problems. This is not encouraging because such person will keep waiting for the collection of another money. He will just go home and relax. His muscles will become weak, they challenge him on his own to go and catch instead of giving him fish. We rather help him on getting some of the equipment. Teach him on the business of fish catching, he will realize before long, not only to be producing for himself, but for the markets and equally be training others on fish production. And before you know it, that area will become the centre of fish production. To encourage farmers, there are loans and facilities for those who are interested to go into agriculture including livestock production. The ministry of agriculture, has been doing the profiling, I am Senior Special Assistant to the Governor and I do not work in isolation. I work in concert with the ministry of agriculture, we serve the same government and our policies, ideas have to synchronize. We equally have experts there, so, profiling has been going on since last year, and before now, they have equally been doing that, even civil servants, facilities were offered to them before coming into the present administration in the state. My wife is a civil servant. She was given loan, with that she increased her poultry farm and production. Now, she is becoming a major poultry dealer likewise many others in the state. When you go there they will give you loan, but they will make sure that you are serious about what you are doing. They will monitor you and see that you are making progress, they will even give you more”,
He assured Ebonyi farmers of the government readiness to continue assisting them to boost their farming business as he encouraged them to pay much attention to integrated farming. “It is something we can start with small capital. Then, grow because it is better to start small. And we can see that some of the feeds, the grass can be planted. What does a cow eat? Is not grasses? You can plant grass as we plant our rice. And in the subsequent years, they will be regenerating on their own. Just constitute a kind of paddock system. For this period, they are here and by the time they are done, you move them to the next paddock. Then, the other one will automatically regenerate, regrow, and from the animals’ manure, you apply it there. Some of these things are becoming self-sustaining. It is what our Governor has been preaching. And I have been shouting and advising our people as I went round the state. Let’s go back to livestock farming. But I am happy that people are hearkening, they are listening and the local governments are into livestock farming. Many are now into cattle production. Like in my local government, Ebonyi, if you go there you see their poultry farm, a very big one. You see their piggery, they are all very good and many other places in the state including development centres, communities, traditional rulers’ settlements. Let us change our environment by encouraging people especially the youth to engage in integrated agriculture practice. We can give them money and for them into corporatives. From there they pick up, then the state will equally have people that can teach them. Give them whatever services they need”, he advised.
Recall he has earlier notified the CBN programme on fish multiplication which Ebonyi State was chosen for fish production To him, the state is to start fish multiplication, fish processing, and fish food making, assured of the training of the people with promise of grants for farmers. He therefore stated that presently, profiling of farmers is going in his office, pledged assisting the farmers to access loan.