By Kelechi Ugo
Farmers in Imo State under the aegis of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has expressed disappointment over the manner through which government in power in the State always politicize intervention funds meant to assist farmers for sustainable food security demanding that anybody who intend to occupy political positions including governorship seat of Imo come next elections must present his/her blueprint for agricultural development of the State.
The farmers who were present in their numbers during their crucial meeting held yesterday at Imo ADP, Owerri disclosed that Nigeria got N200billion as an intervention fund during Chief Olusegun Obabanjo’s regime from World Bank to assist farmers, but Imo State farmers who paid counterpart funds through AFAN did not get the loan, while part of the money was disbursed to President Generals of the different autonomous communities who were not farmers.
They recounted how Imo State government has left farmers in the dark maintaining that the neighboring Anambra State is now exporting vegetable, water melon, cucumber among other crops through its sustainable Green Farmers’ Village.
The farmers body also revealed that the secret behind fast growing of agricultural production in Anambra State was that the government did not temper with its share of the N200b intervention fund.
In his remark, the chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Imo State chapter, Chief Jashet A. Duru described AFAN as an umbrella body approved by the former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo that subsumes all other structures of farmers in the country. Chief Duru advised both commodity line and corporation societies to be AFAN- compliance so as to enjoy some of the underway benefits for farmers. He disclosed that he recently represented AFAN in an economic summit organized by South East governors where it was resolved to set up a law prohibiting open grazing and rankling system in the zone. The AFAN Chairman also disclosed that the Association has constituted consortium that would aid assistance to some of the poor farmers.
Also speaking, the former Account General of Imo State, Sir VIN. Nnaji maintained that every crop grows in Imo urging youths to focus their interest in Agriculture. He recounted his achievements when he was the vice President of AFAN advising Imolities to always take Agriculture as number one occupation. The out gone chairman of AFAN, Imo State chapter, Col Lambert Iheanacho (Rtd) advised the new leaders of the Association to always carry all the members along.
He reiterated that government has not done well in terms of assisting farmers.
Adding his voice, the Traditional ruler of Umuoke autonomous community in Obowo Council Area, HRH Eze Dr Ifeanyichukwu Okafor who is a farmer noted that it is unfortunate that those who always eager to get loan when there is an intervention for farmers are not real farmers maintaining that one must show his/her farm before receiving such loan. “Some always come around and collect the money without use it for its purpose. Don’t fold hands waiting for government to assistance. Start doing something. I am proud to inform you that my community has done well in the Ikuala Ukwu project initiated by Governor Rochas Okorocha”, traditional ruler concluded.