This Day | August 11, 2008
By Christopher Isiguzo
EBONYI, Nigeria - A United Kingdom agro-based firm, Transfor-mation Agrictech has said plan are in the pipeline to tackle the lingering food crisis in four states of Abia, Rivers, Delta and Ebonyi, through by revolutionalised agriculture, which would culminate in the massive production of rice and cassava for both domestic use and export purposes.
Speaking during a courtesy call on Governor Martin Elechi at the Government House, Abakliki, Chairman of the company, Mr. Steve Lilny who led a seven-man team that included the immediate past chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Rural Development, Hon. Darlington Okereke noted that already they had signed several Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the other states, outside Ebonyi State.
While noting that they are currently working in partnership with some Vietnamese, Lilny stated that they were only seeking for an allocation of a minimum of 10,000 hectares of land from each of the states to carry out the programme, adding that a good number of international Finance agencies have already mapped out huge fund for the project that he said will require no other financial input by the state government or the host communities.
While stating that one of the most exciting aspect of the project is that the investment will employ over 4,000 people in any 10,000 hectares with supporting 1000 Vietanmese agriculture trainers, Lilny said the private/public partnership agriculture would grow crops like rice cassava, fish and other crops in commercial quantity that will be exported to other Africa countries and help solve the world food crisis, adding that 20 per cent of every annual profit will be plugged back to the host communities, in form of provision of any infrastructure of their choice.
“The motive is to develop the country we work and work in cooperation with the people and government. The ultimate is to help people know what they are doing. What we do is to teach communities how to grow cassava, rice or and other crops in collaboration with our Vietnamese partners,” Lilny noted.
He continued: “We are bringing mechanisation to work efficiently, to employ every member of the community that will be trained by 1, 000 Vietnamese farmers in every 10, 000 hectares of land.
“After the war, Vietnam became the poorest nation on earth. Now 32 years after, it has grown to become the second largest producers of rice in the world after China and by so has increased their social life.
“Not only shall we produce boundless food but employ and plug back 20 per cent in infrastructure. The community will decide their priority- water, electricity or roads. The contract is for 25 years and we have finance agencies,” said Lilny.
Both the state deputy Governor, Prof. Chigozie Ogbu, who represented the governor at the event and Okereke expressed willingness to support the project. Okereke in particular said he was attracted to the proposal because of its employment potential.