Even as the State is richly blessed with fertile swampy lands for rice production, before 4 years ago no one could respond to this question boldly.
Ever heard of Abia Rice Belt? I doubt it. Abia rice belt is the stretch that runs all through Abia State from Umuahia, Ofeme spanning through Izuakoli to Bende up to Aro, Iso-Aro and Abam area where Abia state has always grown rice all these years. Yes, the belt has been in existence from time immemorial. It would surprise you to know that rice transported to neighboring states where they claim ownership are all grown in Abia. No wonder this resulted into the backlash we experienced when Abia rice (Osikapa Abia) was first announced. Of a truth, majority still do not know that Abia grow so much rice enough to feed the entire state and also export same. The reason for this misconception is not unrelated to the fact that most rice farmers in Abia are indigenes of neighboring states who come here, farm, harvest and transport back to their states. Under Governor Okezie Ikpeazu the table has turned.
On a fact finding mission, I and my team visited the newly constructed Abia Rice Mill as well as drove along the Abia Rice Belt axis. The experience was fascinating, the discoveries astonishing and heartwarming. Okezie Ikpeazu(Ph,D), the agrarian Governor of Abia State made agriculture one of his major pillars of development. As a result, Abia rice production capacity has now been brought to the fore.
Among the things the Governor did to reinvigorate Abia rice production includes;-
– Provision of rice processing facilities (one at Uzuakoli – Bende, another approved for Acha – Isuikwuato)
– Provision of improved high capacity yielding rice seedlings,
– Aggregation of rice farming cum farmers,
– Capacity building for farmers to meet with modern agricultural techniques,
– Provision of latest farming equipment,
– Attraction and commissioning of a new Bank of Agriculture center in Umuahia to enable farmers access grants and credit facilities at very good conditions,
– Organize anchor borrowers programe where the Anchor comes in and off-take farmers produce. With this, at the end of each farming season Abia farmers will not have any clot.
The story of Abia Rice Belt can not be told in words alone. Hold on for our upcoming “Talk Show” on Abia Rice Belt for a complete download of Abia rice production capacity. You’d be as shocked and surprised as I was.
(New Media & Publicity)