The Benin-Owena River Basin Development Authority (BORBDA) on Sunday launched two integrated farm projects in Okpe and Uneme Nekhua in Akoko Edo Local Government Area of Edo State, as part of efforts to boost agriculture in the country.
The integrated farm projects, modelled after the Songhai Farm in Porto Novo, Benin Republic, will engage in food production and processing, research enterprises, integrated crops, fisheries, animal husbandry and marketing.
The Managing Director of BORBDA, Mr Saliu Ahmed, said that the farms were established, as part of the Federal Government’s efforts to revamp the agricultural sector and ensure national food security.
Ahmed said that the two farming communities would cultivate 100 hectares each, adding that the projects were equipped with sales point, agro-forestry, market garden, feed mill, cassava and fruit juice processing unit, abattoir, biogas facility, a dormitory, among other facilities.
According to him, the farm projects will serve as a research and experimental hub for local farmers to learn new and productive methods of farming as a business.
“The Okpe and Uneme Nekhua integrated farms have the potential of significantly improving the local production of cassava and several other crops, animal feeds, poultry, pig, fish production, in an integrated manner that ensures nothing goes to waste.
“An improvement in the productivity of smallholder farmers will translate to improved food security and standard of living in the host communities and beyond,” he said.
The managing director noted that the farms would restore hope and confidence between the communities and indigenes, thereby making the youths of the communities to become major players in the nation’s economy.
“These farms are to be woven around the host communities and a first step towards achieving this will be the sponsorship of selected youths of the communities for immersion training at Songhai Farms in Porto Novo, Benin Republic.
“These projects, which are currently at the clearing stages, will benefit all and even generations to come. We, therefore, strongly advocate total community ownership and participation,” he said.
The facilitator of the project, Rep. Peter Akpatason (APC-Edo), lawmaker representing Akoko Edo Constituency in the House of Representatives, said the projects were unique and part of the Federal Government’s vision to use agriculture for job creation.
Akpatason said that his decision to attract such projects to the neighbourhood was to encourage the people to use agricultural activities to empower themselves.
“I decided to bring these projects to my constituents because it is a legacy project that will stand the test of time.
“My advice for the people of my constituency is to make good use of this rare opportunity by embracing the project and supporting the Benin-Owena River Basin Authority to ensure the project is completed,’’ he said.