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By Theo Manafa 

Then again, much more has been said about how Willie’s success in turning around the fortunes of Anambrarians through his massive Agricultural programmes in the state, but little do people realize how NATURAL and ORDAINED it was for Willie to achieve this feat.

Let’s go back to the “Olden Days” when it was emphatic that the Anambra-North region of the current Anambra state IS the FOOD BASKET of the state, and by extension, the old Eastern Nigeria.
The topology of the region, canvassed with several fresh-water rivers and streams, was adjudged the single most productive agrarian region of Nigeria, even before the Benue plateau basin.
As far back as the early 1900s, a Forest Reserve was established in the region by the European Missionaries to protect one of Savannah-Africa’s habitual trees and wildlife. In fact, a particular tree in the region was confirmed to have been dated over 3,000 years BC (BEFORE CHRIST)!!!
Willie came from this region of Anambra State.
That is Natural...

Then again, there is the “Omambala” River Basin within which lies Aguleri.
Otu-Ocha (White Coast)in Aguleri is reputed to be the first landing point of the early European Missionaries, even before they established the church in Onitsha.
It is this same Otuocha that during the “Olden Days”, has the market where most farm produces from the Anambra-North region, are brought and then sold, for onward movement to Onitsha and the rest of the “World”... and the Omambala River was the major source of transportation in the region.
The Omambala basin from ages past, had three main occupations for men – Farming, Hunting and Fishing... and for women, cooking, marketing the farm produces, and raring of children.
That implies that from childhood, one has already grasped the concept of Agriculture with its economic dynamism.
That tradition still exists, though diluted with the coming and staying of the European Missionaries.
It was within that setting, lifestyle and history some 60+ years ago, that Willie was born.
That’s Natural...

Some Igbo adages say:
“Ana amuro aka ekpe na nka”...
“Ife amulu amu ka ife agwolu agwo”...
When it comes to Agriculture, Willie is a Natural...

Previous administrations, relegated Agriculture to the backyard, probably deciding that with the monthly received OIL MONEY from the Federal Government, they can buy what they need.
They simply failed to realize the importance of Agriculture in the scheme of things, nor ever imagined that Agriculture could make a vital impact in the state’s Economic architecture.
That the proverbial way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, nor that of a hungry man being an angry man, never rang a bell to the erstwhile leaders of Anambra state.

Willie simply embraced Agriculture as one of his FOUR PILLARS OF GOVERNMENT.
His upbringing, coupled with his vast working experience and worldwide travels, influenced and directed him to believe that Food Securty leading to Poverty Alleviation, Empowerment, and Employment Generation will turn Anambra into one of the most stable economies in Nigeria, and beyond.
Willie was ORDAINED to do that, and he exceeded his target... by miles.

Willie’s MAGIC TOUCH to Anambra’s excellence in Agriculture:
His astute business sense and desire to succeed led him to hire the best hands to assist deliver his goals.
So on assumption of office, he inaugurated a 14 man Agriculture Blue Print Team to design a road map for developing agriculture in the State. 
Headed by a renowned agronomist, Professor C.P.E. OMALIKO, the Team produced the blue print which has mapped the state to determine which crops performs well in certain places and gave recommendations on the way forward.

To achieve the recommendations of the Blue Print, Willie utilized unique approaches, including:
Land Acquisition in the Agrarian regions of Anambra State.
These acquired lands will be given out to investors in the Agriculture sector, to aid quick start up of operations.

The Public Private Partnerships (PPP) with large-scale Investors and Offtakers.
These investors include:
i. Cosched Farms:A subsidiary of Coscharis Group, it partnered for Commercial rice processing at Anaku. 
The Expected output from the farm is 60,000MT with milling capacity of 150,000MT. 
The company commenced operations and planted 500 hectares (HA) of rice farm, using flat irrigation on over 1000 HA with an investment of N50billion. 
A total of 2500HA of land was allocated to the farmers at Anaku and it is expected to create 2,000 jobs.
ii. NOVTEC Farms Ltd:The partnership with NOVTEC Farms Ltd is for the resuscitation of Anambra State Rice project at Omogho and Ndikelionwu. 
Operations have started and the company has installed sprinkler irrigation system at the site.NOVTEC’s investment is worth $50,000,000 (Fifty Million USDollars) and cultivates rice on 450HA with over 300HA out grower model scheme.
iii. Lynden Integrated Farm:
The PPP with Lynden Integrated Farms is for the development of a modern integrated poultry and production of high quality eggs and poultry meat in the state. 
Already, operations have commenced at Igbariam on the $61 million US Dollar investments. 
Lynden ultra modern poultry investment is being developed on a 75HA land size and it is expected to provide over 1,500 direct and indirect employment.
iv. DelFarms Ltd:
This is a US$200,000 PPP investment with Delfarms; a Songhai Model Farms of Benin Republic to establish an integrated organic farm in each of the three senatorial zones of the state. 
The company has commenced operations at Igbariam on about 398 HA land size as part of their 2000HA of approved allocation. 
Del Farms Ltd is investing the total sum of approximately N11billion, and is expected to create about 1,000 jobs (Direct jobs 300 indirect jobs 700).
v. Joseph Agro Ltd:The ANSG/Joseph Agro Ltd is making a US$150,000,000 (One Hundred and Fifty Million USDollars) PPP investment for the rehabilitation of Omor Rice Mill and Irrigated Rice production at Omor and Ufuma. The farm has expected output of 100,000MT and mill size of 120,000 MT. 
The farm was allocated 380HA at Ufuma and the investment is expected to create 1,500 jobs (500 direct and 1000 indirect)
vi. Eckcel Farms Ltd:This is a US$100, 000,000 (One Hundred Millon USDollar) partnership investment for commercial cassava production and production/processing of tomatoes at Omasi. 
The expected output is 80,000MT, and work has commenced at the site. 
Eckcel Farms Ltd was allotted a total of 2,500HA of land at Omasi, and the investment is expected to create about 1,500 jobs(500 direct and 1,000 indirect).
vii. Tricity Integrated Farms:This is an $11.4 million USDollar investment on a 5HA land size and the partnership arrangement is for the establishment of a modern semi-automated abattoir in Awka, and later one in each of the three senatorial zone of Anambra state. 
The company has commence construction works, and the investment will fetch over 1100 direct and indirect employment.
viii. Grains and Silos Ltd:This is a $23.5 million USDollar PPP investment for the setting up of grains silos and malting plant within the farm at Nkwelle-Ezunaka. 
The company will soon commence construction, and will fetch over 150 direct and indirect employment.
ix. Staple Crop processing Zone:Anambra State was selected to benefit from the SCPZ (Staple Crop Processing Zone) to be established at Ayamelum LGA. 
The state has provided 250 hectares of land at Omor while arrangement is being made to provide a Zonal Office at Awka. 
The State Ministry of Agriculture is also furthering discussions with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to kick start the project.

The setting up of support to small-scale farmers, via Cooperatives.
About 2,000 Cooperatives has so far been set up in all the Agrarian regions of Anambra State.

Construction of access roads and bridges to connect all the Agrarian regions of Anambra State.
In doing that, the rural farmers will be able to bring out their produce into the urban regions, and realize good sales, and by extension, creating wealth in the rural communities.

Further improvements on the Anambra Agricultural Blue-Print will see the following:
To boost mechanization, the state government procured 10 new tractors with full complement of implements. The State Government is also into partnership with Eforce Agro Development for the procurement and management of 100 tractors at Awkuzu Tractor Base. The tractors have been supplied and operations have commenced. Under this arrangement, 10,000hectares of farm land were prepared across the state during the last planting season.
Improving the Quality of Rice:The State Government has established one modern Rice Mill at Omor with a de-stoner in order to improve the quality of rice produced in the state to meet international standards. More mills will be established in the rice producing communities in the state.
Sustainable off taking of Farm Produce:The State Ministry of Agriculture in line with Willie’s initiative on the 21st Jan 2016 successfully landed its produce (Ugu and Onugbu) into Europe. This is a test run of 2.5MT to certify the conditioning centre and delivery of Anambra produce. 
The state has gone further to initiate training, Certification and networking for interested off takers. Arrangements and understanding have been made with the logistic company ABX World Cargo& IFAOCM for their development of a conditioning centre for the preparation of the vegetables for export. 
This is also developed in partnership with Bosh produce, Eagle solution and Global Gap to export fruits and vegetable to European countries. 
The vegetable farmers are being trained on the right method of vegetable planting and use of organic fertilizer and pesticides. Certifications will be issued to successful farmers by Eagle Solutions Services Ltd of United Kingdom (UK). 
The state is also making further arrangements with other off takers. 
Grand Cereal Ltd, UK trade and investment team, Global Gap etc. for the off take of agricultural produce from the state.
Agric Fairs/Shows
The present administration has sustained agricultural shows to showcase agricultural produce from the state. The ministry has also in collaboration with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) organized Cassava Show and Training of farmers on confectioneries production with cassava.
Youth Empowerment in Agriculture
In pursuance of the State Government Youth Employment in Agriculture, the State has established Agricultural Training Centre at College of Agric Mgbakwu. 
The first batch of 250 youths has been trained in various productions of livestock. The Agric Training Centre will be established in 3 senatorial zones of the state.
Input Support to Small Scale Farmers
The State Government through the ministry of Agriculture is providing improved seeds, planting materials and fertilizers to farmers in the state FREE of charge. 
So far, cassava cuttings, maize and rice seeds have been distributed to farmers to improve the productivity of small scale farmers. 
Also, the state government is participating in World Bank Sponsored Fadama Project, IFAD Assisted, RUFIN, IFAD Assisted Value Chain Development Project and Islamic Dev. Bank Sponsored National programme for food Security (NPFS). 
These projects also provide input support to small scale farmers.
Revalidation of Co-operatives
The Ministry of Agriculture is re-validating the agricultural co-operatives. This is to ensure that only genuine ones benefit from inputs support of government. 
This will also scale up operations and analysis of yields and output. 
So far, 1,025 co-operatives have been validated, bringing the number of registered farmers in the state to 12,000.
Agro Control Centre
The Ministry of Agriculture has established Agro Control Centre with full Internet facilities and equipment.  
The application/Platform (FIMS) Farmer information management system was developed going by international commodity exchange requirement which includes the traceability and mapping the farms into the platform. 
The platform will hold farmers Database, and help for easy reporting and analysis of activities of the farmers.
Soil, Plant and Water Lab.-1st of its kind in the country.
Soil, plant and water laboratory has been established in the ministry’s headquarters. The laboratory is for testing of soil plant and water. This is very important in agriculture for analyzing the soil, plant and water.

Willie’s achievement in the Agricultural sector, so far, includes:
Massive cultivation of Rice from 90, 000 metric tonnes in 2013 to 210, 000 metric tonnes, thereby achieving self-sufficiency in Rice, with forecast set to hit 500, 000 in 2018.
Distribution of 45,000 tons of high-yielding rice seedlings, 18,000 tons of highly improved maze seedlings, as well as 700 metric tons of fertilizer.
Exporting of vegetables and Cassava to Europe and the Americas.
Attaining self-sufficiency in poultry products 
Assisting existing and prospective farmers in every aspect of agricultural business.
Organizing farmers into 2,000 cooperatives and equipped them with 100 tractors.
Establishing an Electronic Control-Room from where all 97,487 farmers scattered across the state, will be monitored.
Attracting and allocating land, to the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, for the building of a world-standard Biotechnology Resource Institute in Abagana.

Willie’s humble upbringing has started a revolution in the Agriculture sector of Anambra state.
Investors large and small, are trooping into the state to grab a piece of the action, and in the very near future, Agriculture will become the next, if not the very top highest earner for Anambra State.

This is Willie...
He is NATURAL...

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