By Osondu Ahirika
The Akwa Ibom state First Lady and wife of the governor, Her Excellency, Mrs Martha Udom Emmanuel is set to kick start massive investment in large scale commercial farming to ensure food sufficiency in the state.
Mrs Martha Emmanuel who spoke through the Coordinator of the Family Empowerment & Youth Reorientation Programme, FEYReP, Mrs Ime Ephraim Inyangeyen, dropped the hint when she conducted newsmen on a tour of one of the sites acquired for the project at Nsie-Ikono communities in Okobo Local Government area.
The First Lady enthused that, women are ordained to compliment the efforts of the menfolk to build a virile community, harping that, in furtherance to the policy of diversification of the economy enunciated by the Akwa ibom state Government, FEYReP, which is a pet project powered by the office of the First Lady will embark on massive cultivation of cash crops, and help achieve food sufficiency in the state.
Mrs Emmanuel disclosed that, about 100 .87 hectares of land has already be surveyed in the community for the farm and mentioned that, the target is 400 hectares. She stressed that, Akwa Ibom State has the potential to feed herself and the nation if the vast farmlands lying fallow and waste are maximized for agricultural purposes.
On the benefits of the investment, the First Lady said that improved species of cassava stems and other cash crops, including palm fruits will be acquired and cultivated in the area for rich yield.
She revealed that apart from creating employment as women and youths in the area will be engaged productively in the farms, the yield will have a ready market as the state government will stand by as off-takers of the harvest, so that no loss whatsoever is entertained.
Mrs Emmanuel further added that, the value chain of having the farm produce processed into finished products, the trading and supply operations will all go a long way to creating wealth for all those that will be involved in the massive investment. She therefore charged the community to cooperate with FEYReP so that the project takes off before the planting season is due as this will empower members of the host community apart from ushering development into the area.
In a chat with newsmen, Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for works, Mr Ephraim Inyangeyen, whose ministry was mandated to open up access roads into the farmland and clear the surveyed portion, pledged the readiness of the ministry to deliver on what he described as a very commendable and visionary project.
Commissioner Inyangeyen extolled the First Lady for being so thoughtful and also enjoined the youth leaders and elders of the community to take advantage of the window of opportunity to grow their local economy, generate wealth and attract government presence to the area.
Mr inyangeyen urged them to rally around the First Lady and support the state Government as the farmland acquired is not being confiscated from them, but will be returned to them in due course after harvest.
A cross section of youths in the area who spoke with newsmen expressed enthusiasm that, when the project takes off, it will add much value to their community and the state at large.