By Patrick Ochei
No fewer than 600 farmers from across the 18 communities of Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State, were gathered in a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) training programme tagged “Demand Stimulation On Improved Seeds and Land Mechanization”, organised by the Project Star and Joedaka Farms at the Onicha-Ugbo Club House, Onicha-Ugbo on the 15th July, 2022.
The one day training session was centred around equipping the participating farmers with the right knowledge of Agri-business in order to join the chain of contributors towards food sufficiency and sustained development of agriculture for the benefit of the farmers, the society and global economy.
Experts from USAID who mostly focused their lectures on the USAID programme “FeedFuture”, submitted that to solve food problems there must be lots of activities to be engaged in. They said only seven States were selected in Nigeria for the programme, four in the North and three in the South. For the South, Delta and Cross River States were chosen from the South-South while Ebonyi State was chosen from the South East.
Meanwhile, in Delta State, Aniocha North was selected for the training because of the engaging collaboration of the Project Star and Joedaka Farms over the time with USAID activities.
The USAID programme in Nigeria according to the experts, focuses on the production of Maize, Soya Beans, Rice, Cowpea and Aquaculture based on the Most Impactful Practice (MIP).
The experts took time to lecture the participants on how to source their raw materials locally, growing products from the mentality of Agriculture to Agribusiness, difference between grain and seed, land preparation and access to finance.
In narrowing down to the agricultural peculiarity of Delta State, the USAID expert said Aquaculture and Maize production were chosen, however, for the purpose of the training to Aniocha North farmers, the focus was on Maize production because it is a high breed seed.
In a nutshell, the USAID Feed Future training is targeted on productivity, increase and livelihood which summarises the essence of farming to increase the food chain and grow wealth.
Another resource person and one of the biggest poultry farmers in Nigeria, Chief Ike Odoe was on ground to engage the farmers, where he encouraged them to form a Suppliers Market for their products.
He said his farm alone consumes 108 trailers of maize in one year and the entire Delta State Maize farmers do not have the capacity to produce that quantity for him; so he gets his supplies from the North.
He therefore, urged the participating farmers to form a synergy to seriously go into Maize farming, believing that they already have a market with him around to always buy off the produce from them.
The retired Federal Director turned farmer, again, urged the participants to form a formidable alliance to be able to approach the bank for a bit soft loan, adding that government could equally be engaged to subsidise the prices of farm implements and help with the land preparations. He added that in the North, it is the local governments that prepare land with tractors for the farmers.
In her assessment of the programme, one of the organising farmers and Chief Executive Officer of Joedaka Farms, Barr. Josephine Ada Kachikwu expressed satisfaction with the turn out of the participants and quality of training, adding that Agriculture is the way to go for a sustained development.
She said she had been organising youths and the elderly who are into farming to get serious and use it to create wealth for themselves instead of hoping on handouts from politicians.
When asked where she got the inspiration of farming, she said she learnt it from her parents and her husband’s family too. “My elder brother, Chief Ike Odoe is a big time farmer who is known internationally; and that is why I impressed it on him to come. I have been a big time pig farmer too and people from various places in the State used to come to buy pigs from my farm.
“I have organised a successful farmers cooperative society here in Onicha-Ugbo. I have done well in farming; every available space of land around me is converted into a farm. That is why we need to train and open up the next generation of our farmers to opportunities. In this kind of training, nobody promises to give anybody money; we only impart the requisite knowledge in the farmers and give them clue on how best to access raw materials and finance for their productions”, Kachikwu hinted.