The Catholic Diocese of Enugu has commended Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Barr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, among others, for their commitment and invaluable support towards the full actualization of the Diocese’s agricultural dream project, the Mary Agro Farms, located at Udi Town, Udi Local Government Area.
The Diocese expressed gratitude to Gov. Ugwuanyi for his immense contributions to the Church as well as his support towards the development of the permanent site of Mary Agro Farms at Omughu/Obunofia, Enugu State, for massive expansion.
Speaking when Gov. Ugwuanyi inaugurated and inspected the farm project at St. Mary’s Parish, Udi LGA, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, Most Rev. Callistus Onaga thanked Gov. Ugwuanyi for “always making it possible for us to partner with the Government of Enugu State, and the support you have been given us as the Father of the State”.
The event also witnessed the graduation ceremony of the first batch of trainees of Mary Agro Farms, Udi.
In his welcome address, the Auxiliary Bishop of Enugu Catholic Diocese, Most Rev. Ernest Obodo, who is also the Director of Mary Agro Farms, on behalf of Bishop Onaga and the entire Presbyterium and laity of the Diocese as well as the management, staff and students of the farm, also thanked the governor for his administration’s positive intervention towards the acquisition of land for the permanent site of the farm.
Bishop Obodo said that the Diocese is committed to partner Enugu State government to make the state “a food basket of Nigeria as well as provide employment for the teeming youth of our state”, adding: “In this way we shall together stop crime in our society”.
Noting that Mary Agro Farms has enjoyed enormous support from public-spirited individuals and collaborations from Austria, the Enugu Catholic Diocese appreciated an entrepreneur and the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State, Barr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, for being “the first to give his support to this project”, revealing that “he (Mbah) sunk the first water project for Mary Agro Farms in 2018”.
Inaugurating the farm project, Gov. Ugwuanyi applauded the vision of the Diocese under the visionary leadership of the Most Rev. Onaga for embarking on the enterprise, “an integrated resource-efficient farm engaged in livestock and crop farming and seeks to grow the critical manpower for agriculture through training of our youths in the farming processes”.
Expressing delight that the trainees will be offered post-training mentorship and Start-up input support upon graduation, Gov. Ugwuanyi disclosed that Agriculture has been a major plank of his administration.
The governor pointed out that “Enugu State is one of the six participating states in World Bank supported Agricultural Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) project”.
He stated that the APPEALS project is currently providing numerous benefits to the people of Enugu State such as Youth and Women Empowerment Programme through which 1700 youths and women are being supported through training, registration of their Agribusiness with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), development of Business Plans, Starts-up grant for establishment of Agribusiness enterprise and mentorship for sustainability.
Gov. Ugwuanyi further stated that the project is also providing support to Technology Adoption by assisting existing farmers with improved technology and farm inputs for enhanced production, processing of farm produce, market linkages and alliances; adding that the construction of farm access roads, aggregation centers and cottage processing centers, etc, will soon commence.
The governor, who equally disclosed that his administration has trained 520 youths of the state at CSS Integrated Farms, Keffi, Nasarawa State in two batches, on different sections of the agricultural value chain, said: “We started ranching with Efigbo to help re-invent the Igbo heritage, launched the Coal City Rice to offer our people quality locally produced Rice that competes favourably with any other brand, etc”.
Gov. Ugwuanyi congratulated the first batch of trainees of Mary Agro Farms on their graduation and charged them to engage the world and deploy the skills and character inculcated in them and conquer.
Acknowledging the enabling leadership of Bishop Onaga and the hands-on superintendence of the Auxiliary Bishop, Most Rev. Obodo as well as the entire management of the farm towards the success of the enterprise, the governor said that “Your efforts to feed the body and soul are cherished, for a healthy soul resides in a healthy body (anima sana in corpora sano)”.
One of the highlights of the event was the presentation of a cheque of N500,000.00 to each of the graduates to establish agribusiness in their different areas of training.
The Deputy Governor, Hon. Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo, the Bishop of SAN Mali Diocese, Most Rev. Hassan Florent Kone, the Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development, Nnayelugo Chidi Aroh, the Chairman of Udi LGA, Hon. Philip Okoh, his Ezeagu counterpart, Hon. Chukwudi Ozoeluba, the Chairman, Enugu State Council of Traditional Rulers, HRH Igwe Lawrence Agubuzu, the PDP Candidate for Enugu West Senatorial District, Engr. Osita Ngwu, the PDP Candidate for Udi South Constituency, Hon. Okey Aneke, the Chaplain, Enugu State Government House, Rev. Fr. Chinedu Ozoude, and the Chairman, JAAC, Dr. Hyacinth Ngwu, were among the dignitaries at the event.