Saturday, 9 November 2019

C/River senator's wife presents farm implements to farmers, disclose future plans

Dr Chioma Gershom Bassey in Calabar today. (Photo Credit: Queensley Bassey). 
Kelvin Obambon|9 November 2019 

CALABAR —Wife of the Senator representing Cross River State Southern Senatorial District, Dr Chioma Gershom Bassey, through the Embrace Africa Development and Empowerment Initiative, has embarked on an empowerment campaign across the seven local government areas that make up the senatorial district NEGROIDHAVEN has confirmed.

Mrs Gershom on Saturday presented various farm tools to female farmers at the expansive farming field at New Airport, Calabar South Local Government Area.

Speaking during the empowerment programme tagged, "Seed to Harvest", the Senator's wife said the move was one of the ways of showing appreciation to the farmers, who had supported the re-election of her husband, Senator Gershom Bassey in the 2019 general elections. She said the empowerment was to help farmers increase their productivity so that they could help support their families.

While stressing the need for the women to form cooperative societies in order to effectively benefit from various empowerment schemes, Dr Chioma said talks are ongoing between Embrace Africa Development Initiative and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture on how the ministry can collaborate with local farmers in the senatorial district and beyond to enhance agricultural productivity.

She said that there will be regular training for farmers on how to improve their output, using modern farming techniques.

Earlier in an interview with our correspondent, Dr Gershom had said that the empowerment programme was decided upon after a thorough need assessment was undertaken by a team from the Embrace Africa Development Initiative. 

She said the intervention will be replicated across the seven local government areas of Cross River Southern Senatorial District, adding that stakeholders at the ward level would be involved to help farmers set up cooperative societies.

"This is a grassroots strategy approach. Before now, we had interacted with the local farmers. We have looked into their areas of need. We also looked into their skill set and we found out that all these women ploughed the ground with their bare fingers. No tools at all. This also tells on their productivity.

"They are not able to do as much as they would want to. They also don't have the contemporary knowledge on farming and how to utilize the potential in modern agriculture.

"As we know, agriculture is the main stay of Nigeria's economy, and has always been. There's rural-urban drift. If we don't encourage local enterpreneurship like farming, we will be doing ourselves more disservice.

"We intend to take this approach beyond agriculture. We found that some of these farmers, their children stay in the farm with them. They are not educated. They don't go to school. We want to take them to the classroom while their parents go to farm. This is just one way to approach the problems that our local women encounter. We want to start a discussion with them, and we hope that by this intervention we will have a healthier, safer and more prosperous community", Dr Chioma said.

Giving insight into the activities of Embrace Africa Development Initiative, the lawmaker's wife said: "Embrace Africa was founded couple of years ago. We have several thematic areas that we are interested in - education, health, girl child advocacy and agriculture. We also have skills and training department, which was our strong focus couple of years back. The project phase now is starting up with agriculture. Embrace has been doing a lot of community work."

Meanwhile, among the beneficiaries who received wheel barrow and other tools, was Mrs Arit Edet Asuquo, the oldest farmer at the New Airport farming space, who said she started farming at the field in 1980.

President of New Airport farmers cooperative, Mrs Arit Okon John, who spoke on behalf of the farmers, lauded Dr Chioma Gershom Bassey for the gesture, describing it as a promise fulfilled.

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