By Raymond Benson( KMCO Abia LIFE-ND)
The Abia State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prof. Ikechi Mgbeoji has reiterated the resolve of the government in the payment of Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises, Niger Delta, (LIFE-ND) counterpart fund before the end of the year.
This disclosure was made in the commissioner’s office during the courtesy visit paid by the Abia LIFE-ND Project Coordinator, Uchenna Rowland Onyeizu, Ph.D on Friday.
Dr. Onyeizu who presented a list of challenges thanked the State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu for ⁹timely release of the state counterpart fund at beginning of the project.
” At the initial stage, the first year counterpart fund was paid on time. In fact, the state was the first state amongst the nine states of the Niger Delta where the project is ongoing. That helped us to start faster than others. We want to thank the Governor and the Ministry”, he said.
Speaking on the report card of the achievement made so far on the project, Dr. Onyeizu said that the incubatees who are the major beneficiaries of the project, have successfully completed their first and second business circles, making profits ranging from N300,000 to N500,000.
” Of course, looking at the rural economy, we could say they have been empowered economically and socially by our intervention. These 280 incubatees will definitely increase to have more numbers between now and next year,” he promised.
Onyeizu also spoke on successes of the project in areas of climate change and nutrition mainstreaming adding that the project had created awareness to encourage planting of trees than indiscriminately cutting them down. On nutrition mainstreaming, he said much effort and input had been made to enhance healthy feeding to address hidden hunger in the rural communities.
Among other issues presented were the challenges of land donation, veterinary services for the livestock, and processing machinery, especially in cassava and oil palm.
Responding, the commissioner who made emphasis on the importance of land to agriculture promised to liaise with other agencies to tackle the problem.
” On the issue of land data bank, we had some meaningful discussions on that. We can take forward working with the Ministery of Lands, the ADP, Ministry of Agriculture and inform the Secretary to the State Government. It’s high time all these interrelated agencies worked on the issue concerning land, stand on the same page. We also need to involve FADAMA,” he said.
Professor Mgbeoji who referred the Governor’s prompt response to counterpart fund as “spectacular” also promised to assist in the veterinary and machinery issues.
He also eulogised the incubator-incubatee model of LIFE-ND as having the master stroke of “genius” evolving from Igbo mentorship business grooming.
“It’s of a stroke of genius for LIFE-ND to take that template and engraft it into what it has turned out now to be. No wonder it stands out among others”, he concluded.
Also present at meeting were the representatives of Ministery of Agriculture and FADAMA.
Dr. Onyeizu was accompanied by the State Agribusiness Promotion Officer, Pastor Godwin Chukwuekezie, State Project Accountant, Mr. Alozie Daniel, ACA; State Internal Auditor, Mrs. Favour Azubuike. Others include, State Rural Institution Youth and Gender, Deacon Anthony Nwaobilor and State Knowledge Management and Communication Officer, Raymond Benson.