In an effort to ensure food security and create job opportunity through agriculture, the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) is targeting no fewer than 800 direct beneficiaries in its integrated Farm Estate and Fish Village in Imo and Abia States respectively.
Executive secretary of NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne, who made this known while on inspection tour at the two project sites in Imo and Abia States said the Acharaugo Emekuku Integrated Farm Estate in Owerri North local government area of Imo State, is on a 35 hectares of land that has been abandoned for more than 30 years.
He said NALDA had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Imo State government to take the abandoned integrated farm estate, reactivate it and engage the people of the community.
According to Ikonne, the farm estate has the capacity to engage about 500 farmers directly where there will be a veterinary training centre to give practitioners and prospective veterinary doctors opportunity to be trained and acquire knowledge on how to take care of the animals within the farm.
“Our intention is to make the farm fully functional, bring back the things that used to be there before like the poultry, piggery, goat pens and additional facilities like the processing unit, packaging unit, training centers and snail rearing where farmers will be taught on rearing and processing.
“The land is within thirty five (35) hectares but the governor has assured us that he is going to increase it to 100 hectares capacity that would be able to take in all these and then have crop production area.
”For us, it is purely based on President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to reactivate abandoned farm estate and create new ones in order to create employment and achieve food security for the country and also attract the youth to go into farming, so the youth can see farming as a way of life and means of livelihood”, he said.
While on an inspection tour of NALDA’s Fish village in Ariam Ikwuano local government area of Abia State, the NALDA boss said the fish village is on a 100 hectares land which would engage about 250 to 300 direct beneficiaries in areas of fish farming, grass cutter farming and crop production.
According to him, “The processing machines are purely international standards and the grass cutter that will be produced here will also be processed, dried and packaged for export and for local consumption.
“We want to promote grass cutter meat the way we are promoting rabbit products and package it very well. It has to be properly dried as bushmeat which everyone knows that it is very healthy and the market is there”.
On fish production, he said the fish village would be the first of its kind in the entire south east and it would involve the entire value chain of fish production from the hatchery point to rearing, processing and packaging.
The Ariam Fish village is targeted at empowering women in and around the community and the programme is called “Women in Fish Farming”
In the area of crop production, he said the farm will have a crop section like maize production so as to produce for the birds in other locations.
Speaking on the management of the farm estates in the two locations, Ikonne said the Authority would use the same private management formula used in Suduje-Daura, Katsina State, adding that one of the banks has indicated interest to manage the facility.
He added that the Acharaugo Emekuku Integrated Farm Estate in Owerri North, local government area of Imo State would be officially commissioned come first week of September, 2021.