Toward Sustainable Food Security In Imo State Of Nigeria: A Manual For Agricultural Development Of Imo State, Conceived, Organised And Driven By All Farmers Association (Afan) Imo State And Edited And Presented By M A C Odu
Imo State lies within Africa’s rainforest belt. It has fertile land resources for farming which can be nourished to feed her population and export food to other parts of Nigeria and Africa given proper attention by government to the needs of the huge population which this belt bears. The pressure of population demands organisation into cooperative units for pooling capital and attracting funding for increasing production of farming people; high yielding varieties of crops and livestock; Extension Services to acquaint farmers with results of research; mechanization of processes of production in view of diminishing spatial size of farms; Quality Control of produce and livestock with efficient post harvest preservation methods, efficient distribution modes, capacity building of existing farm hands and attractive pull to youth to engage in farming; and commodities exchanges to ensure that appropriate values reach farming folk at the end of each season and that capital is available for increasing productivity levels through irrigation for food crops increase beyond tropical rainy season.
All Farmers Association of Nigeria Imo State has through the past six years worked steadily as a non-governmental organization toward these ends and have set out its findings with the above title to enable governments pass on resources to AFAN with its massive membership to raise production instead of established waste of resources through unorganized charlatan groups masquerading as farmers soaking up resources for a vital sector into unbridled consumption and importation that has stultified agricultural development through the past fifty years.
PREAMBLE: 1. Agriculture in Imo State has been given desultory attention by all governments since the creation of Imo State. The Circle Farms created by Governor M I Okpara’s administration in Eastern Nigeria in the sixties have been neglected by subsequent administrations. Very little evidence exists that giant strides were taken by that administration to create Farm Settlements in farsighted concept of food security and in reverence for economic growth theory of employment in a milieu of abundant land resources. Adapalm was one project that could easily have provided huge potential for both palm oil industrialism and for employment creation and export of palm oil for which the state has national and international ranking as key producer. Petroleum discovery and exploitation is to blame for neglect of agricultural infrastructure built with dedication when it mattered most.
- President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration found for the creation of a national body of farmers which he named All Farmers Association of Nigeria to take farming to commanding heights outside the shoddy umbrage of government for maximum effect on food production. His vision was to have state governments access dedicated and intervention funds and pass same on to well established and monitored association of real farmers in order to assure food security into the far future. State governments were to access the funds by paying counterpart funds into federal government treasury. States in other parts of the country took advantage of such funds to shore up agricultural production. Anambra our northern neighbour for example met their counterpart funding requirements with Central Bank of Nigeria, drew the fund and passed the fund wholly on to AFAN Anambra State for disbursement to their members. The results are geometric increase in food production in Anambra State. Imo has not been able to pay counterpart funds during the administration of Governor Rochas Okorocha and no benefit of dedicated and intervention funds could reach Imo Farmers. Such was not in the vision of Imo State Government that concentrated on glamour projects with blinkers against federal government policies and programmes. However, during Governor Ikedi Ohakim’s administration, funds dedicated to agriculture were released to states. But the funds did not get to All Farmers Association of Nigeria, (AFAN) Imo State as intended by Central Bank of Nigeria CBN. It was recklessly spent on nourishing political ambition of cronies on the corridors of power. What was left in the coffers of Imo State after Ohakim failed to regain power was applied recklessly toward phantom projects to the utter neglect of the purpose for which it was earmarked and disbursed. Imo state was a hotbed of arbitrary and reckless spending on projects that were for the most part not studied and bore little relevance to food and employment security.
- AFAN Imo State resolved to wean itself from government in 2011 and set up a committee to form a huge cooperative umbrella for farmers in Imo State and prepare it for direct funding by government and/or local or international multilateral agencies for agricultural development. Col. Lambert Ihenacho, former chairman of AFAN Imo State commissioned a committee led by Prof. M A C Odu to create a cooperative family for purposes of rational and effective mobilization of capital. Over six hundred cooperative societies were discovered to have registered in Imo State. A number of cooperative entities had gone moribund.
- The committee completed its assignment in 2013 Owerri, and convened a summit at which over 600 (six hundred) cooperative societies came together to form a cooperative union called Imo State (Owerri Municipal) Thrift and Investment Cooperative Union Limited in partnership of three factors: EHF (Owerri Municipal) Cooperative Society Limited, Ministry of Commerce and Industries Cooperative Division, Imo State, and All Farmers Association Of Nigeria Imo State. EHF (Owerri Municipal) Cooperative Society Limited underwrote all the expenses. The objective was to form an apex cooperative that would make the formation of a credible agriculture and sundry services funding agency possible. Application was subsequently raised to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the formation of 1st Nationwide Microfinance Bank Limited in 2015. The process is nearing completion with months of back and forth interaction with CBN. The bank with Head Office at 4 Onumonu Street, Owerri is a testimony of uniqueness in preparation for private sector engine to agricultural development paradigm for other states to copy.
- It has long been established by technocrats in productive sector of Nigeria economy that governments cannot be efficient in allocation of resources for productive processes. Governments are best at making rules for private sector operators to drive production and distribution processes. It is even more pertinent in food production as the failures of Okorocha administration to husband farm assets inherited have eloquently spoken.
- AFAN subsequently commissioned a committee to travel through the LGAs to sensitize all Local Government members of AFAN on the trajectory of AFAN. A Technical Committee was commissioned by Chairman of AFAN Imo State for the preparation of a blue print on Agriculture in Imo State. The following subcommittees of the Technical Committee were set up with experienced faculties from both Field and Institutional sources covering over thirty commodity groups. Each came up with far-reaching recommendations for path to food security in Imo State in the future.
1.6 SUBCOMMITTEES OF TECHNICAL COMMITTEE OF AFAN
Tree Crops, Food Crops, Capacity Building, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries, Publicity, Advocacy, Funding and Commodities Exchange. The ultimate two committees were critical for farmers independence Funding Committee would link us with cooperatives directly and Commodities Exchange issued from experience in marketing of produce which could result in exploitation of producers if they approached markets without a well managed marketing system.
- This document is the outcrop of efforts of all subcommittees in the project to wean farmers from the stranglehold of government. It represents a promise of independence and unrestrained growth of agriculture and allied industries for sustainable development of Nigeria into the far future.
- DEVELOPMENT PARADIGM PROPOSED FOR ADDRESSING FOOD SECURITY IN IMO STATE IN SHORT, MEDIUM AND LONG TERM PERSPECTIVES
2.1 Each food crop or livestock or tree crop was designed to have its own practitioners in a commodity line with branches in all the Local Governments of Imo State. Each commodity line would owe allegiance to AFAN by annual subscriptions and other charges toward sustenance of the Association but would be self motivating toward its goals driven by group profit incentive. Cassava, Yams, Sweet Potatoes and Rice, are key crops in this group. Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) is a key group under livestock with broilers, layers cockerels and turkeys strongly paraded. Snailry and fishery group are gaining ground. Oil Palm Farmers Cooperative Union Limited has taken on registered form as a tertiary cooperative and has invested in equity shares of 1st Nationwide Microfinance Bank Limited already.
2.2 It became necessary recently to register Imo AFAN Cooperative Management Consortium Limited to drive productivity of farms and allied productive enterprises in agriculture especially where such farms and allied productive enterprises incur neglect or abuse of investments made in them. It is hoped that AFAN will eventually be sustained by groups held together by professionals under the umbrella of Imo AFAN Cooperative Management Consortium Limited that will be structured to provide technical manpower and consociate resources for assuring food security in Imo State in the foreseeable future devoid of waste and neglect of investments made on land. An army of young professionals shall be given orientation to this endeavour for achieving continuity of its relevance into the far future.
2.3 A copy of the Certificate of Registration of Imo AFAN Cooperative Management Consortium Limited is attached as Appendix Two of this document.
3.0 PROGRESS MADE BY AFAN SO FAR IN FARMERS’ ORGANISATION
3.1 Imo Cooperative Summit of 2013 yielded over 600 (six hundred) cooperative entities which could seed development of many commodity lines if funded. EHF (Owerri Municipal) Thrift and Investment Cooperative Society Limited, a partner in the bank project has over four hundred individual and cooperative societies on its equity shareholders roll. The bank has the required spread to shelter all cooperatives in the AFAN family granted judicious funding from dedicated and intervention funding institutions. A huge file of cooperatives has been compiled ready for pre-loan surveys of holdings of each farmer or cooperative to establish currency and capacity building requirements of each farmer or cooperative prior to lending processes.
3.2 Each farmer or cooperative entity shall have a code relevant to its commodity line. That code will anchor the farmer or cooperative for grants or inputs or capital provided that funds disbursed are seen to have been spent on farms and allied activities. To this effect a monitoring department shall be an integral part of the function chart of AFAN.
3.3 The objective of AFAN is to qualify for direct loans from Agricultural Financing institutions to farmers in Imo State through AFAN Imo AFAN Cooperative Management Consortium Limited or any of its affiliates or commodity lines or cooperatives provided such individual or affiliate is a member of AFAN and has met all integrity tests for access to such loans by virtue of status of project for which loans are sought.
3.4 An Integrity Pledge (copy attached as Appendix Three of this document) shall be executed by each applicant for loan prior to Status Surveys to establish qualification for loan.
3.5 Imo AFAN Cooperative Management Consortium Limited shall be a clearing house of agricultural development initiatives for the mass of farming people in South East Nigeria through relationship now being struck through South East Communities Development Association, SECDA, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Aligbo Development Foundation and other bodies to create food security throughout the South East Zone by this community-based development paradigm.
Credits for this document:
Professor Chima Korieh,
Comrade H A Chukwu,
Chief Sir Japhet A Duru JP
Mazi Everest U Iriaka
Comrade H A Chukwu
Chief Livinus Ngwangwa
Professor G A Anyanwu
Chief Stephen Amaechi
Mazi Ebere Ezeigbo
Eze Professor M A C Odu
Mazi Chijioke Uchegbu
Rev. Fr. Professor M Onyeocha
HRH Eze J C Amafili PhD
Barrister Mrs Gina Ariaga
Eze-Elect Prince C I Iheanetu
Rev T A U Iwuh First National Deputy President AFAN
Mazi Iwejuo Nnadozie
Mazi Benneth Nlemchukwu
Comrade Cosmas Anochiri
Mrs Sophia Nwachukwu
Chief Livinus Eboh
Comrade Chukwuma Uzo Mbaise
Mrs Angela Uche
Mazi Sam Jato
Mrs Ijeoma Nwachukwu
Chief John C Offomata
Chief I M Nliam
Sir Morrison Irondi
Chief Alex Ugoh
Chief Alex Nosiri JP
Mazi Nicholas Ibe
Mrs N Onovo
Dr Eric Ogwo
Mazi Alex Nnoruo
Mazi Francis Iwueze
Chief Victor Ikeadiah
Lady Ann Akogu