The National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) has said that more than 800 farmers would be direct beneficiaries from its integrated farm estates in Imo State and fish village in Abia State.
The Executive Secretary of NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne, made this known while on an inspection tour of the two project sites in Imo and Abia states.
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Speaking during the inspection tour of NALDA’s fish village in Ariam Ikwuano in Abia State, Mr Ikonne said the project sits on 100 hectares and would accommodate 250 to 300 farmers as beneficiaries for the fish, grasscutter farming and crop production.
“The processing machines are purely international standards and the grasscutter that will be produced here will also be processed, dried and packaged for export and for local consumption.
“We want to promote grasscutter meat the way we are promoting rabbit products and package it very well.
“It has to be properly dried as bush meat which everyone knows is very healthy and the market is there,” he told journalists.
Speaking on the fish production, he said the fish village would be the first of its kind in the entire southeast covering the entire value chain of fish production from the hatchery to processing and packaging.
The Ariam fish village is specifically designed to empower women in the communities around the farm.
At the Acharaugo Emekuku Integrated Farm Estate in Owerri North, in Imo State, Ikonne said the farm estate, which sits on 35 hectares of land, was abandoned for more than 30 years.
He said NALDA had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Imo State government to reactivate it and engage the people of the community in agricultural production.
According to him, the farm estate has the capacity to engage 500 farmers directly with facilities such as a veterinary training centre to give practitioners and prospective veterinary doctors the opportunity to be trained on the farm.
“Our intention is to make the farm fully functional, bring back the things that used to be there before like the poultry, piggery, goat pens and additional facilities like the processing unit, packaging unit, training centres and snail production where farmers will be taught on rearing and processing.
“The land is within 35 hectares but the governor has assured us that he is going to increase it to 100 hectares’ capacity that would be able to take in all these and then have crop production area.
“This is part of Mr President’s directive to NALDA as measures to develop villages, communities and we can only develop these areas when there are land donations.
“So, any community that makes land available to us can be assured that the land will be turned into meaningful use for the benefit of the community to reduce youth restiveness, unemployment and to achieve food security,” he said.
NALDA said the private management formula used in Suduje-Daura, Katsina State, would also be adopted for the farm, adding that one of the banks had indicated interest to manage the facility.