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Core Farm Products Powering Anambra’s Economy: Strategic Crops Offering Food Security and Exports

Anambra State is renowned as one of the leading agrarian states in Nigeria. The state has leveraged its rich, fertile lands and abundant resources to build a robust agricultural sector that powers food security and exports. Anambra’s strategic focus on key crops that align with market demand has been integral to this success.

Yam production fuels food security.

Yam is a staple crop and major agricultural product in Anambra State. Bold The state accounts for over 25% of Nigeria’s yam production, with an estimated output of 3.8 million metric tonnes per year. Anambra has ideal ecological conditions supporting thriving yam cultivation.

The crop is deeply woven into Anambra’s culture and cuisine. It provides an affordable staple food source, delivering household food security. Yam also serves as a major income source for rural farmers in the state.

Government Programmes Boosting Yam Productivity

To enhance productivity, the Anambra government has been providing subsidised, improved seed yam varieties to farmers. This allows for higher yields per hectare. The state imports over 30,000 MT of seeds annually from Ghana to distribute to yam growers.

The government has also established the Anambra Yam Development Programme (AYADEP) to facilitate large-scale production and processing. Mini-yam storage facilities in production areas help stabilise market supply and prices.

Exporting Anambra Yams to Global Markets

Leveraging the Nigerian Export Promotion Council’s “Zero Reject” initiative, Anambra has increased yam exports to Europe, the US, and the Caribbean. Standardised grading and quality assurance minimise rejections. More export-oriented production is targeted to earn foreign exchange.

Rice Cultivation: Transforming Anambra’s Economy

Rice farming has grown tremendously in Anambra State over the past decade, catalyzed by rising domestic demand. The state now produces over 300,000 metric tonnes of rice annually on nearly 100,000 hectares of farmland.

Large-Scale Rice Projects Spearheading Growth

Integrated modern rice mills established by the government have allowed large-scale cultivation and processing. The state-owned Anambra Rice Ltd. has installed 50,000 MT capacity mills in Omor, Ayamelum, Anaku, and Igbariam.

Major agro-allied firms like Coscharis Farms Ltd. have developed extensive rice farms and milling operations in Anambra. Private sector projects like these have attracted investment and technology and created thousands of rural jobs.

Improved Seeds and Mechanisation-Driven Yields

The Anambra government has been providing improved rice seedlings and agro-chemicals at subsidised rates to boost cultivation. More farmers now have access to modern inputs.

The promotion of mechanised farming through tractor hire schemes has also expanded the area under cultivation. The government aims to achieve self-sufficiency in rice by curbing imports into the state.

New Rice Varieties Targeting Export Markets

Local rice brands like Anambra Rice now meet quality standards for export. The state is expanding production of aromatic Ofada rice strains preferred in export markets. Investments in integrated rice mills and parboiling plants will enable large exports.

Cassava, a versatile crop offering food security and income

Cassava is widely grown across Anambra State owing to its resilience and versatility as a food crop. Current annual output is estimated at 2.5 million MT. The crop adapts well to local conditions and requires minimal inputs.

Cottage Cassava Processing Empowers Rural Communities

Most cassava is processed by micro and small enterprises into garri, fufu, tapioca, and starch for domestic consumption. These cottage processors provide income for rural women. The Anambra government supports cassava processing groups with grants and equipment.

Industrial Processing: Attracting Investors

Large cassava processing plants supplying starch to breweries and confectioners have been established in Anambra. Public-private projects aim to create ethanol and high-quality starch for export. Partnerships with global firms provide technology and markets.

Improved Varieties Increasing Productivity

High-yielding, disease-resistant cassava varieties developed by researchers at the National Roots Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) in Umudike are being distributed to Anambra farmers. These improve yields per acre, benefiting farmers.

Maize production fuels the poultry industry and food processing.

Maize is a major cereal crop in Anambra State, currently produced on over 150,000 hectares. The average annual output is estimated at 750,000 MT. The crop provides raw materials for the poultry and food processing industries within the state.

Hybrid Maize Varieties: Increasing Productivity

The widespread adoption of higher-yielding hybrid maize seeds developed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has enabled increased productivity per hectare. These varieties have boosted maize output significantly.

Mechanisation speeds up cultivation.

Tractors provided to maize farmers on subsidised hire purchase schemes by the government have accelerated land preparation and planting. This has allowed rapid expansion of the maize farming area.

The poultry sector is driving demand.

The poultry industry in Anambra relies heavily on a steady supply of maize for feed production. Broiler farms, egg production plants, and poultry processing plants continue to expand, fueling demand for maize. This provides a ready market for maize farmers.

Food Processing: Creating New Markets

Large maize millers, starch manufacturers, and breweries within Anambra provide local markets for maize. Billions in investments in food processing by firms like GB Foods create additional steady demand for maize.

Oil Palm, an Emerging High-Value Crop

Oil palm cultivation is being actively promoted by the Anambra government to diversify income for farmers. Suitable land has been mapped across the state for oil palm estates. Improved seedlings are being distributed.

Outgrower Schemes Linking Farmers to Processors

Private sector firms investing in oil palm plantations and mills have been encouraged to develop contract farming models. These link smallholder farmers to reliable markets, mechanisation, and inputs.

Productive Oil Palm Varieties to Boost Yields

High-yielding oil palm seedlings bred by the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) are being made available to farmers. These improve productivity and oil extraction rates compared to traditional varieties.

Vegetable Production, a High-Value Enterprise

Anambra is one of the leading vegetable-producing states, supplying cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Aba. Major crops include tomatoes, onions, chilli peppers, cucumbers, and leafy greens. Vegetables provide farmers with higher incomes.

Expanding Cultivation for Rising Urban Demand

Rising demand for vegetables from Nigeria’s expanding urban population has led more Anambra farmers to grow produce like tomatoes, peppers, and onions. This offers an avenue for profitable farming enterprises.

Irrigation-Enabling Year-Round Production

Vegetable production in Anambra is increasingly moving from seasonal rain-fed farming to irrigation schemes that permit year-round cultivation. Solar-powered boreholes and small reservoirs provide water.

High-Yielding Improved Varieties

The use of high-yielding hybrid vegetable seedlings with resistance to pests and diseases has improved productivity for Anambra farmers. Local research institutions are developing better vegetable varieties.

Mango Plantations: A Fruit Export Opportunity

Mango farming is an emerging opportunity in Anambra State. The tropical climate and adequate rainfall in the state support mango cultivation. Several large mango orchards have been established.

High-Density Planting Boosts Yields

Wider adoption of high-density mango plantation models maximises yields per hectare compared to traditional methods. More smallholder farmers are being trained on this technique.

Export-Oriented Production and Post-Harvest Management

Mango varieties suitable for export markets are being planted, with a focus on international quality standards and post-harvest handling for shelf-life extension. This enables exports by sea and air.

Food Processing Spurring Production

Mango puree and juice processing plants being set up within the state offer a local market for those unable to export fresh mangoes. Demand from these processors will further spur mango farming.

Supporting Anambra’s Farmers Through Market Linkages and Agribusiness

For Anambra State to build on the gains made in agricultural development, supporting farmers with vital market linkages and agribusiness opportunities is crucial. Some initiatives in this regard include:

  • Facilitating access to finance through initiatives like the Anambra State Agricultural Development Programme to fund equipment acquisition
  • Expanding and upgrading rural feeder road networks for easier crop transportation and farmer access to markets
  • Promoting farmer cooperatives and clusters to facilitate joint food processing, packaging, branding, and marketing of produce
  • organising regular stakeholder meetings between farmers, processors, traders, and exporters to foster business partnerships.
  • Utilising ICT and e-commerce platforms to directly link farmer groups to high-value urban food markets
  • Establishing integrated agro-industrial hubs across the state to foster value-added food manufacturing using local farm produce
  • Continued investment in rural electrification and renewable energy systems will drive agro-processing.
  • Supporting youth and women-led agribusinesses through entrepreneurship schemes
  • Strengthening crop insurance mechanisms and innovative risk management instruments to protect farmer incomes against climate risks.

Anambra’s wealth lies in its fertile farmlands and enterprising farmers. By powering increased productivity in strategic crops and catalysing modern agribusiness, the state is delivering jobs, food security, and export revenues for an emerging economy.

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