The Anambra State Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization, Processing and Export has assured farmers in the state of adequate infrastructure and facilities for improved production yields and bumper harvests.
The Programme Manager, Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), in the ministry, Mr. Jude Nwankwo gave the assurance in an exclusive interview with Daily Trust on Sunday, in Awka, the state capital.
He said the present administration, under Chief Willie Obiano has invested hugely in the sector, including free distribution of seedlings as well as provision of organic and inorganic fertilizers at affordable prices.
Nwankwo noted that before the current administration, most farmers in the state hardly apply fertilizers to their crops as a result of exorbitant prices of the commodity, coupled with increased cases of diversion prevalent at that time.
He, however, explained that the farmers currently have access to the products as a result of the ‘liberalization’ of the process where all forms of intermediaries have been eliminated.
“Before now, government procures fertilizers and gives out to ministries and local governments to distribute to farmers. But we discovered that the products hardly get to the beneficiaries as these middlemen hijack them at the end of the day.
“But with the present arrangement, the issue of diversion is no longer there. What we do is to ensure that as much as possible, the right products are received because the process has been ‘liberalized’.
“Presently, the agro dealers have direct access to import and distribute the products directly to the farmers. Besides, we have service providers who assist in the distribution.
“We equally throw our doors open here in the ministry to the farmers to access the products directly. With all these options, the problems of someone carrying one or two lorry loads of fertilizers outside the state in the pretext of distributing them to the farmers in the state is tackled.
“Again, most farmers before now, plant without a cup of fertilizer. But the whole scenario has changed as they can now afford to buy as much quantities as they want. With just a token of N5,000, the farmers can easily pick up a bag to farm with.
“Farmers, before now, were getting one to two metric tonnes, but now, the tones have increased to five to six. Cassava on its part has increased to 40,” he stated.
According to him, the ministry is currently laying more emphasis on organic agriculture in view of its health implications on the inputs.
“We try to ensure that farmers adopt organic farming which is safer. Our belief is that farmers would play down on the level of inorganic fertilizers as it would go a long way in improving the health standard of the populace.
“Scientists have proved that beyond what we eat, most of the prevalent diseases in our society especially cancer stem from we eat. Besides, most of the substances produced through inorganic fertilizers affect the lifespan of human beings.
“We really encourage organic farming using organic fertilizers, which to a large extent reduces health hazards associated with production using inorganic fertilizers.
“Our agric-friendly governor has assisted us immensely in producing both organic and inorganic fertilizers. The inorganic type would gradually phase out with time. Very soon, our production would be purely organic.
“But for export, we insist on the organic because of the emphasis placed on it by the foreigners who insist on certified products,” he said.