By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
The over Five Hundred Million Naira Nkeonyemetalu Farms and Agro-Allied Ventures Amaetiti, Orumba North Local Government Area has gone into full cattle ranching of local cattle known as ‘Efi Igbo’. The farm is the best mechanized farm in Anambra State, South East Nigeria though facing serious challenges of lack of electricity and access road. The Awgbu, Amaetiti-Okpeze, Ndiukwuenu Amansea road passed through the farm.
Chairman of Nkeonyemetalu Farms and Agro-Allied Ventures, sitting on about 200 plots of land , High Chief Walter Chigbo played host to members of the Anambra state Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) led by its chairman, Comrade Emmanuel Ifesinachi on a day working visit to the farm, confirmed that ranching is a more profitable way of rearing cattle.
He said Fulani herdsmen who engage in nomadic method of rearing cows do so out of ignorance.
His words: “Cattle are like humans, you take them about looking for food, and as you walk about to feed, they expend the same energy they gather from the food they take in, walking about, at the end, it tells on the health of the cows.
“The Fulani herdsmen either do not know that it is more profitable to rear your cattle in a secluded place, or they have become used to be nomads and cannot adjust.
“I will take you to my cattle farm after now, and we have a good number of cows there, including the native cows which we call ‘efi Igbo’, and you will compare them with the ones you see the Fulani people walking about with.
“Study has shown that it is better to rear your cattle in a secluded place. Feed them well, and they rest well too, and before long, you will see how fat they will grow.
“In United Arab Emirate where I did a study, I saw a cow that is so big that this house cannot contain it. Such cows, you can get two drums of milk on a daily basis from it, but if they were to be taking the cow about on foot to feed it, you would see how tired it would look, and that will affect its size too.”
Chief Chigbo said he would soon secure a very large place for the cattle ranch, so as to enable him get the best from the animals, insisting that wild grazing puts the cattle through stress which has a negative effect on the end product both on the meat and the milk produced.
High Chief Chigbo who is also the CEO/Managing Director of numerous organizations including Bestwood Pulp Resource , a freight forwarding firm and Willy Angel Marine Concept Limited as well as U.J. Waters Investment limited charged the federal government to rather than encourage open grazing call for ranching, insisting that every sector of agriculture was very profitable, and since it was a private business, the herders should also be encouraged to buy land for construction of ranches in order to minimize conflicts between herders and farmers.
“This farm you see is sitting on 162 plots of land, and I bought the land from indigenes of this community. The cheapest land I bought was N500,000. It is my personal business, and I tell you, the easiest way to become rich is to go into farming.
“Most of the richest people across the world are farmers, so herdsmen should also be encouraged to get land and ranch their cows as this will put an end to the constant clashes between farmers and herdsmen,” Chigbo said.
Nkeonyemetalu Farms and Agro Ventures is not only into cattle ranching, but has a large fishery, poultry, piggery as well as plantations of different cash crops including Plantain, Oranges and Banana as well as pawpaw.
The NUJ team led by its chairman, Comrade Emmanuel Ifesinachi, and Secretary Emma Uduagha during the visit were taken round sections of the farm by the owner, High Chief Chigbo to see for themselves first-hand the ranch with both local, efi Igbo and cross breed cows, poultry section with over thirty thousand birds and the fish ponds with over one hundred and fifty-six thousand cat fishes.
The NUJ team also went to the piggery section, the plantain, pineapple, pawpaw and sugar cane plantations, as well as facilities for frozen fish and foods business and dry fish processing duplex among others.
Earlier, the Anambra State NUJ Council Chairman, Comrade Ifesinachi, commended High Chief Walter Chigbo the Chairman of Nkeonyemetalu Farms and Agro-Allied Ventures Amaetiti for his foresight in investing half a billion in agriculture in Anambra state with about 40 people direct and indirect workers in its employ, pointing out that at full capacity that the farm would employ over 500 workers directly and indirectly.
Comrade Ifesinachi stressed the need to boost agricultural development by encouraging small, medium and large scale farmers in the country, through provision of financial support, access roads, electricity and pipe born water, noting that the greatest challenge of High Chief Chigbo were lack of electricity to the farm and lack of access road.
He commended the state government on its input in agriculture and appealed for continued support to farmer’s to ensure food security in the state, noting that agriculture is the only remedy to the long lasting economic instability in the country.
Contributing, the Special Assistant to the Governor on Agriculture, Mr. Cyril Nwobu reassured that the current administration led by Governor Willie Obiano is doing its best in making agriculture the major source of revenue generation which will in turn improve the living standard of Ndi Anambra. He said Governor Willie Obiano’s government will support Nkeonyemetalu farms particularly his ranching of local Efi Igbo to do it better for the state’s pride.