Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State on Tuesday said that the surest way for Nigeria to recover from the effect of COVID-19 pandemic is going back to agriculture.
Ugwuanyi stated this when he flagged off the Cocoa and Plantain farming in the state at the state ministry of agriculture.
Represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Matthew Idu, the governor disclosed that Cocoa and plantain are very viable sectors in Enugu, noting that with the relaunching of cocoa and plantain farming, “cocoa will be a commercial crop in Enugu State.”
“We are talking about diversification, where are we going from here? I don’t really call agricultural movement diversification because you diversify into something you never know. We have been doing agriculture. We left agriculture to oil when we saw the crude under.
“We left what we were doing very well to oil but we forgot something. We would have used the money we are getting from oil to improve what we have been doing before. If we had invested some percentage of the money from crude into our agriculture we won’t be where we are today.
“But because we left it at the back today we are begging for it. We want to go back to the soil and do what we know how to do best. The foremost universities in Nigeria were built by proceeds of agriculture and that was the period when we build monumental buildings that cannot collapse. So l appeal to each and everyone of us to come back to the soil because there is benefit in agriculture.
“I don’t want to say I thank God for Covid-19. No. But at the same time it opened our eyes and today we are trying to recover from the shock and the only way we are going to recover is in agriculture.”
He added, “The country and the world is going back to the soil, agriculture is in thing now and Cocoa we know is cash crop that can give money to the people. It can give money to the nation and get for us the forex. You can get foreign earnings from cocoa. So today that we have reenacted the planting of cocoa in Enugu, our believe is that Enugu people will go into cocoa farming in a commercial quantity so that we can earning better from it.”
He however noted that cocoa isn’t an ethnic crop, saying “our people have been looking at cocoa as crop that grow only in the west but I tell you it is not true. It doesn’t have anything to do with ethnicity, so cocoa grows everywhere there is good soil. Like I said even if the soil is not okay you can tame the soil to be good using the best agronomy practice and I believe Enugu soil is good for it.
He noted that Enugu state is now producing cabbage and onion in commercial quantity now, adding that before now it was believed that it only grows in the North.
“We are growing cabbage and onion in Enugu. I have farmers that are doing it in hectares and they are growing.”
On the threat by Northern food dealers to cut off supply to the South East, Ugwuanyi said “if what they are cutting from you, you can produce it are they still cutting? They are no longer cutting you can produce it to yourself. So if anybody says they are giving us Onions and we can grow onions in our soil then you should go ahead and grow our Onions. All we need to do is to teach our farmers what to do to produce this Onions simple.”
In his remark, the National Chairman of Cocoa and Plantain Farmers Association of Nigeria (CPFAN), Chief Ayodele Ojo, appealed to farmers in Enugu State to take advantage of the economic meltdown in the country occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic and dwindling oil revenue, to go into cocoa and plantain farming.
He said that cocoa and rice farming are becoming the real oil money in the country and it could provide employment opportunity for the youths.
“I want to appeal to all the youths of Enugu state in particular and South East in general to go into cocoa farming,” promising that CPFAN would assist them in whatever capacity to ensure sustenance.