By Monica Ada Chidinma Eze,
As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality exist in our world, none of us can truly rest. There are people in the world so hungry that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
Stating the danger of hunger facing the world, the FAO in her 2017 statistics alarmed the world that, “815 million people in the world don’t get the food they need to live a healthy life”.
Throwing more light on the above, former USA President Jimmy Carter stated, “world cannot exist one-third rich and two-thirds hungry”.
It is all these facts as stated above that made the present Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari to embark upon an enviable agricultural program tagged.”Nigeria Zero Hunger Forum” in order to arrest hunger in Nigeria. To achieve this, the Federal Government resolved to engage Chief Olusegun Obasanjo a onetime President of Nigeria and an acknowledged and renowned farmer and Initiator of Operation Feed the Nation when he was a military Head of State.
In the nation wide sensitization program of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and his Team to most agricultural endowed States of Nigeria, he visited Ebonyi State where he reiterated the possibility of Nigeria Government’s ability to eradicate hunger and poverty using Agriculture as a tool.
Chief Olusegun during his visit praised the Ebonyi State Government under the watch of Engr. Dave N. Umahi for using Agriculture to impact so much on the lives of millions of Ebonyi people.
One thing, Chief Olusegun didn’t know including many others is that before his visit to Ebonyi State on this sensitisation, Ebonyi State has a highly committed person who not minding his high ranking in the society have already keyed into this goal of the Federal Government to contribute his quota towards eradication of poverty and hunger by massively investing in the Agriculture sector. This man is no other person than Senator (Dr) Emmanuel Onwe the incumbent Commissioner for Information of Ebonyi State whose prowess and commitment towards eradication of hunger and poverty in Ebonyi State through massive investment in agricultural sector is something commendable.
I fainted when I took a tour of Senator Onwe’s farm with some of my colleagues, a farm that its end seems endless. The fact remains that this massive agricultural venture is capable of feeding the entire Ebonyi State residents without resort to any challenge. Senator Onwe, a sir Thomas Scholar, an alumnus of London School Of Economics and political Science (L.S.E) of the university of London, where he earned and obtained an LLB with honours along with other prestigious qualifications. He has redefined agriculture sector in Ebonyi State that I can easily nominate him as a force in the fight against poverty and kick out hunger from Nigeria.
On an inspection to his farmland at Ezillo, it was quite surprising to be true that he has intensively invested in Rice farming. His rice Farm which measures a total range of more than 100 hectares clearly defines his love for Agriculture.
Not minding all the certificates and qualifications he has acquired, he still see farming as an important means to fight hunger in Nigeria.
According to Senator Onwe, “the concept of the one man, one hectare initiated last year by His Excellency, Chief Engr David Nwaze Umahi the Executive Governor of Ebonyi State was the propelling and motivating force in my investment in the agricultural sector. This policy was a way of getting everybody involved in agriculture because Gov Umahi is a man that is so obsessed by the fact that the future of Nigeria Economy lays in Agriculture and no longer in the oil sector. In this regard, Governor Umahi maintained that, the best solution out of hunger and poverty is for us as a nation to stop to rely on oil sector as means of the survival of our economy and rather we should go back to Agriculture which is far better than oil and gas.
Therefore when he influenced every member of the Ebonyi State Executive council to embark upon farming, I enthusiastically got involved and when I saw that this land have been laying fallow for ages. I decided to tackle the challenge of cultivating it and that is what I have done that led to what some people see a revolution in the production of rice in Ebonyi State.
Furthermore, Senator Emmanuel Onwe mathematically explained the profit marginalisation between someone who is into oil and gas business and someone who is a farmer with this quote -“if I give you 1000kilograms of crude oil and present you with 1000kilograms of milled rice, which would you take? He responded that 99% of our people would go for crude oil. Why? Because we are patterned to think that way, that’s just the Nigerian mentality.
Mathematically, if you divide your 1000kilograms of crude oil it will give you about 7.33barrels of oil, which is sold for about $50 per one and you will get around N180,000. But if you sell 1000kilograms of milled rice and divide it into what we call bushels or head pans, you will be having 40bushels of rice which when sold for N7500 for each and multiply it by 40bushels, it will give you a total sum of N300, 000 which is nearly double of the value of crude oil.
In conclusion, Senator Emmanuel Onwe urged everyone to participate fully in fighting against hunger through agriculture seeing the benefits it has yielded to those who have tasted its sweetness and encouraged the society not to mind the status or the portfolios they have acquired and see Agriculture as the sole solution to fighting hunger and developing Nigerians and the National Income.
For when food is in excess, we will become richer than other countries.
World Food Programme in its estimate stated that, “66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world” while Mother Teresa seeing the revolution that Senator Onwe is igniting in Ebonyi State stated, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one”.
Finally, If Governor David Nwaze Umahi can be a farmer!
If Senator Emmanuel Onwe can be a farmer!!
Then who are we not to be proud to venture into farming so that collectively we can eradicate hunger and fight poverty in our State and Nigeria at large?
Monica Ada Chidinma Eze,
MONICA ADA CHIDINMA EZE
TECHNICAL ASSISTANT ON MEDIA TO THE GOVERNOR.