Owerri Imo State/New York, USA, April 29, 2021:
The Mbaise Policy Roundtable (MPR) has recently held a meeting with the Heads of Department of Agriculture of the three Local Governments in Mbaise with the aim of advancing the MPR-CSS collaboration which targets empowerment and poverty eradication through agriculture.
MPR is a non-governmental organization with offices in Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria and New York, USA and the meeting, between it and the HODs in charge of Agriculture of Aboh, Ahiazu and Ezinihitte Local Government Areas of Mbaise took place at the classy Chris VI Hotel in Mbaise.
The meeting was for the MPR to better understand how the Agriculture sector is set up or organized in Mbaise, understand their assets and challenges in order to identify the resources needed from the MPR-CSS collaboration to boost Mbaise into a multibillion Naira Agro-based economic powerhouse, while eradicating hunger and poverty.
The CSS Group of Companies is one of the largest mechanized Agribusinesses in Africa, majoring in Agriculture, construction, food processing and packaging, Aviation and Renewable energy.
In his report following the meeting with the HODs, the MPR Chief Program Director and the meeting’s convener, Dr Jude Iheoma said: “This meeting was coordinated by Hon. Uche Chris Agomuo, the Councilor representing Amuzi-Ihenweorie ward at the Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government Area (LGA). Those in attendance were Mr. Hillary Okereafor, the HOD representing Aboh- Mbaise LGA, Mr. Patrick Iroh, HOD, representing Ahiazu Mbaise LGA, while Ezinihitte Mbaise LGA was represented by its Agriculture HOD, Mr. Gabriel Unanka.”
During the meeting, Dr. Iheoma gave a brief history of MPR and her vision for Mbaise with emphasis on reviving Agriculture in Mbaise. He reported that “The three HODs were impressed with MPR’s vision for Mbaise and pledged to collaborate with MPR. I inquired about how the Department is structured in their various LGAs….Basically, the HODs report to the Director of Administration and General Services (DAGS) who then reports to the LGA Chairman.
On staffing, Mr Okereafor, said the Aboh Mbaise LGA has 15 trained Agriculture Extention workers (Staff with BSc or HND credentials) and 50 untrained staff that brings their total number of staff to 65. They also own a massive land in Okeuvuru but wasn’t sure of the acreage…..In Ahiazu LGA, Mr. Patrick Iroh reported 21 trained Extension workers, 48 untrained for a total of 69 Extension workers in Ahiazu LGA. He further reported that they have about 20 acres of farm land in the Ahiazu LGA. The HOD for Ezinihitte, Mr. Unanka reported about 13 trained staff and 21 untrained for a total of 34 Agriculture Extension workers. He further stated that Ezinihitte has 25-30 acres of farmland.”
The HODs departed from the meeting with the understanding that they would update their Directors of Administration and General Services about the meeting and arrange a follow up meeting between Dr. Iheoma, their Directors and LGA Chairmen.
Commenting on the meeting’s outcome, the MPR Director for Agriculture, Lady Akwaugo Rowland-Obom said, “it was a very informative meeting. We are beginning to identify potential areas of private-public partnership that would revolutionize Agriculture in Mbaise. To start with we do not have the luxury of massive areas of underdeveloped Agriculture lands in Mbaise. That will soon be a thing of the past. We are also in the process of sending off some of our citizens for training in modern Agriculture techniques and business, who will on return share their experiences, collaborate and coordinate with our Agriculture extension workers and the business community to ignite a massive Agro-based Mbaise economic resurgence.”
It must be recalled that during recent high level strategic talks between MPR and CSS Group, at which MPR delegation, including Her Excellency Professor Viola Onwuliri, former two-times Minister for Foreign Affairs/Education, who led the delegation, and Mr. Remmy Nwachukwu, Manager Trade Finance, Anglophone West Africa, AFREXIMBANK, and the Chairman/CEO of the CSS Group Professor John Kennedy Opara, some key agreements were reached that would leverage the structures on ground for rapid take off.
The topline areas of mutual agreement included strengthening MPR and partnering her as an outlet for Corporate Social Responsibility in Mbaise; designating dedicated in-house navigators at CSS and locally at MPR to handle Agriculture development inquiries and consultations from Mbaise; establishing a customized Agriculture training center or institute in Mbaise; partnering with MPR in the ongoing establishment of an Agriculture University in Mbaise and establishing a Food Reserve Center, Warehouse, and distribution infrastructure for CSS products in Mbaise.”
MPR is the premier pre-eminent Mbaise Public Policy and Business Advisory Council in the world, focused entirely on the development of Mbaise and Imo State, through the facilitation of financial and in-kind resources, private investments and private public partnerships.
MPR is situated to liaise, partner, and/or collaborate with international entities, the Imo State Government and agencies, and the private sector to produce and advance policies that will fast track Mbaise and Imo State development to a first world status.