INTRODUCTION: My name is Chief Isreal Amanze, I studied Agriculture at the University of Nigeria (UNN) and since then, I have been in the Private sector. I have been a farmer and an agricultural industrialist and I have been the leader of farmers in Abia State till now. Abia Today: Al what level, Sir? I have been the State Chairman of All Farmers Association. I was the founder and currently the State Leader for ten years and currently the Chairman of the Board of Trustees Abia State Farmers. I am also the National Trustee for Men Association of Farmers Nigeria. I represent the South East in that Board. Abia Today: As Project Manager, What difference do you think you can make through this organization? Everybody in Abia State knows my passion for agriculture, I love it. I believe in it and I practice it. This job have given me an opportunity to, practilize what I have always dreamt about for the farmer. I have been a private sector farmerfor a very long time but right now this opportunity is giving me a chance to increase the productive index of our farmers in Abia State. In fact, I see myself as saddled with the responsibility of changing what Agriculture is in Abia State forthe better. Abia Today : What steps are you taking towards achieving all these? First of all, Abia ADP has a core mandate to carry out extension programmes as well as training ofourfarmers.We are also to disseminate information and bring in research findings into practical use and give inputs to farmers. All these we wantto realize. Secondly, I want Abia ADP to be a one SPECIAL FEATURE BACK UN TRACK stop shop for farmers. We want our farmers to get employed in the Agricultural Sector. They cannot do all these if they don’t have the important and necessary preparation and exposure.. What our parents did is no longer exactly the way we want to do agriculture. We want to do a better,, higher and modern class of Agriculture, which means that our farmers need to get trained in the new trends of agriculture. ADP is all outto actualize this. We have the requisite manpower. We have the subject matter specialists. We have all these people to deliver these services to ABIA TODAYJANUARY 2020 our farmers, but that is not all. After training them and they enter into the field, we have a lot of extension workers who will be in the field monitoring what they are doing, extending research findings to them and all and this is another core mandate of ADP We also follow up our trained farmers, even those we did not train,,and we follow them all through extension services. Abia Today : What are these modern trends you are talking about? Right now, what is trending in agriculture is that newer varieties of SPECIAL FEATURE crops and newer system of agricultural practices, are now coming up. In the last one and a half weeks alone,, we have been able to organize training for 50 farmers in production of broiler birds. Broilers are higher breeds of birds comprising of our local birds and foreign birds.. We’ve done that and is all ready, we are empowering the trainees with a starter pack of 30- 50 week old broiler birds. We also have up to 6 different stages of farmers and extension workers who are in training in Kaduna, in Abuja and in Zaria. As I speak with you now, we have so many of our ADP Staff who are being trained. The next set is that we want them to come back and start training our farmers. Our training facilities are being highly upgraded at this same time we are sharpening the brains of our trainers in different parts of this country. So this is one area we want to focus on for a very long time. ADP used to give input to farmers in the past. We intend to bring that back so that ADP will make sure the farmers getwhatthey need to get to produce and we’ll make sure that ADP will go out to do research and procure highly improved seeds both for animals and crops. We’ll make sure that we also procure and give to the farmers the other inputs like fertilizers, chemicals and seeds. These are core mandates of ADP and we are going to make sure we dothem. l have also visited the Central Bank and we are having a collaboration with the Central Bank to make sure that our farmers who are doing anchor borrowing are well taught and are well oriented, so that when they borrow money to farm, they don’t fail. These are services we are out to render and we are ready. Abia Today : What is the level of cooperation you are getting from all Stakeholders? First, l want to thank Dr Okezie lkpeazu who sent me to this place and he given us all the latitude we need to excell. He is a visionary leader who takes concrete steps to restore things without making noise. So, I’m receiving full cooperation from the government. We have discussed with the governor about our intention to start having Green Houses in collaboratlion with farmers. and he has graciously given his approval. As you may have known, Governor lkpeazu is poised to reiuvenate all critical development agencies of government that has been moribund over the years and ADP is one of them. Abia Today : And what difference willallthese make? The impact isthat with Green Houses, for instance, we will bring back healthy, natural, homegrown fruit to our people through sources you can be sure of. instead of the imported ones often poisoined in the course of transportation and in a bid to preserve them. There, we will be producing food without pesticide residue. You can actually pick one tomato or garden egg from our green houses and eat same and and you are sure it’s not containing any pesticide residue or is not contaminated by any chemicals. These measures and QB ABIATODAYJANUARY 2020 other innovations being brought back bythe Governor are intrinsic ways to promote the health of the citizens. Abia Today : There’s Cocoa in some part of Abia State. There’s cashews, Palm Oil, Cassava and other Agricultural products. Which of these are you actually focusing on? Flight now, we are not ruling out any crop but we will definitely do more in areas where we have natural advantages. For instance, we want to make sure Cassava is produced in very huge quantities in this state. .0ur effort is on production, processing and marketing of cassava and cassava products and empowering our farmers through this product We also want to strengthen the rice value chain. Our target is on strengthening the rice value chain – making sure we can produce and process rice. So, Rice, Maize and Cassava are very important to us because almost all ourfarmers are into them and when we touch them we are touching the lives of the people. We have been able to attract loan facilities for close to two hundred farmers and they are already in the field with it and in this new year, we will make sure that on cassava, maize and rice we target about ten thousand farmers and empower them to produce and market. We want to do that to anchor the next program. There is also a value chain development in oil palm. There’s one in cocoa and another in poultry. These are area value chains we are trying to develop. You are quite aware that the Governor,, few weeks ago, flagged off the poultry cluster at Umuosu Nsulu. That poultry cluster is a very laudable project. In the next one to two years, it will replace what we use to have in Avutu in the old lmo State when Sam Mbakwe was there as Governor. That’s why people liken Okezie lkpeazu to Sam Mbakwe and M.l Okpara. These men undertook projects that went way beyond theirtenure. Very soon, we will start selling frozen and life birds and eggs – mainly table eggs from the Poultry Clusters This is a monumental achievement of our dear visionary Governor for which he must be applauded.. He has started with Abia Central, and I’m sure in the next few months, he will develop ones in Abia North and Abia South. This is also coming to all local governments. Creatively, and steadily, Governor lkpeazu is making Abia a poultry destination for Nigeria. There is no other state that has gone so much into poultry more than what Abia is doing currently. so he is giving us one area where we can conﬁdently say, this is where we are and everyone should know thatAbia isthere. We also have done similar things in oil palm. When the millions of oil palm seedlings the Governor has distributed Q O 5 springs up within few years, we will start seing that our golden red oil flowing once again.. You know it is better than the black oil. These are the novel things Governor lkpeazu is doing for which we must rally round and give him support Abia Today: What challenges are you facing in the execution of your Projects? The greatest challenge we have is our land tenure system. Here, people own land in patches and in fragments. When a family own more than 20 hectares of land, that 20 hectares is balkanized and shared to the different parts of the family making it difficult, if not almost impossible to introduce mechanized farming and other mordern practices amongst the vast majority of our local farmers.That is a very crucial problem. When we go to Abuja to attend national meetings they will tell us to ABlATODAYJA i SPECIAL FEATURE mobilize hectares of land per farmer and with our system of land ownership, we simply can’t. That land tenure system is a very strong problem. Another challenge is land development. You will see so economic trees owned by different individuals and this does not permit you to pass a tractor easily..That’s one of the things we are looking at. We have to develop our own models that will be amenable to mechanization so that our youths will be easily integrated to agriculture.