By Nsisong Etukudo.
It is pertinent to say that Akwa Ibom State is on the verge of achieving food security, and as well, becoming a net producer of several vegetables and cash crops. Good enough, the Akwa Ibom State Government is not alone in the diversification policy on food production, as many private individuals have contributed their quota into the policy and are already synergizing so as to achieve the desired goals.
The ongoing ‘Open Governance Tour 2017’ – a commendable development, aimed at showcasing the tremendous achievements of Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, facilitated by the Honorable Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Charles Udoh, made a tour to the diverse massive acres of vegetables plantation across the State.
Visible Agricultural transformation across the State is comprehensive; also development in root crop, vegetables and fruits, which are 22 different types; like Lettuce, Cabbage, Radish, Pepper, Tomato, Cucumber, Garden Egg etc. are commendable. Of essence, one particular crop enjoying the massive attention of farmers is TOMATO – the simple reason is the surge in tomato cultivation is the huge demand for it both within and outside the State.
Sincerely, the Tomato nay Agricultural Revolution initiated by Governor Udom Emmanuel through Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Employment Scheme (AKEES), has come to stay. According to the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Technical Matters and Due Process , Mr. Ufot Ebong, Agriculture Revolution is one project every Akwa Ibom State person should embrace totally, because apart from ensuring availability of these highly nutritious vegetables, the all round income projections of the sales of the crops are incredible.
Intrestingly, privately owned farms are springing up across the State. Senior Civil Servants, Retirees, Management of Schools, Private Enterprises, Business Outfits, Politicians regardless of political affiliations are keying into the cultivation of high yielding vegetables. Fallow plots of land are rapidly turning into tomato farms.
To further buttress the sustainability of these lofty project, an AKEES Vegetables Nursery/Demostration Farm in Osongama Estate, Uyo has been established. This is where all the vegetables/fruits are nursed and groomed to a stage that is ready for a transplant to the large farms. The species of Tomatoes nutured in the nursery includes – Roma Red; Tolga and Cobra. A stalk of Tomatoes has a minimum of 60 fruits and it can be harvested 5 to 6 times in its life span.
A large expanse of Vegetables farms spans across the State – 2.5 hectares of tomato plantation at Mbiabong Etoi, Uyo; 2.3 hectares of vegetables plantation at Ibiaku Obio Ndobo, Uruan LGA; 8 hectares of tomato and other vegetables plantation at Mbak Etoi, Uyo. Diverse Demonstration Farms at Shelter Afrique Estate, Osongama Estate and many others sites.
The Value Chain of Tomatoes/Vegetables farming is quite enormous. It creates wealth, employment opportunities, self Sufficiency; the ultimate aim is to export the farm produce to the neighbouring States and region. An individual by name Uyio James Michael an indigene of Obot Akara attest to initiating the weaving of the baskets that is used to stock up the tomatoes after harvest. He boost of having about 25 persons in his employ and the financial gains are lucrative. No slave labour, the labourers are placed on a monthly wage and and additional incentives.
The Consultant to AKEES on the vegetable initiative, Mr. Brezhnev Langwa(a Cameroonian), the CEO of Benny Farms Limited pinpointed that the secret of the successes recorded so far in the project is attributed to the very fertile soil that Akwa Ibom State is blessed with.
In all modesty, the Akwa Ibom State Government ably led by Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel deserves commendation for investing great energy, enthusiasm and technical support towards the successes of the Agricultural Revolution in the State.
Indeed, there are no gimmicks; the State Government is all out to unlock the hidden wealth that has been locked up by ignorance. Tomato nay Agricultural Revolution is stratigically repositioning Akwa Ibom State as a produce destination in the country.