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The Executive Secretary of National Land Development Authority (NALDA), Mr. Paul Ikonne, has said that the planned establishment of 109 Integrated Farm Estates by the Federal Government has nothing to do with Rural Grazing Areas (RUGA) or ranches.

It could be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed NALDA to establish integrated farm estates in all the 109 senatorial districts to boost food production across the country.

The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, had in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Jare Ajayi, accused the Federal Government of attempting to bring back the rejected cattle colony and RUGA through the establishment of the farm estates.

But Ikonne, who spoke to journalists at Owerri International Cargo Airport, yesterday, said the integrated farm estate was designed to engage youths in the entire agricultural value chain.

He said: “Well, it’s unfortunate; it’s not another type or anything that has to do with RUGA. The Integrated Farm Estate, the president mandated us to put it in all the 109 senatorial districts after commissioning that of Daura, meaning he saw the productive nature, the impact that project will make.”

“The project is meant for the community, to develop the community. What we have inside is poultry, fishery and for those who are doing piggery – piggery. So, it is for the people.

“The insinuation is meant to mislead people as a result of lack understanding so to say. But the true position is that the integrated farm estate is designed to accommodate the youth from that community in order to engage them into entire agricultural value chain.”

He explained that the estates would be designed in line with “what the community is known for and what the community is interested in going into.”

He added: “Some states are getting poultry, cow – like in the north; in the south like Abia they are doing fishery and rabbit rearing. In Oyo, we already have rabbit rearing and crop farming. In Ekiti State as well we have crop farming.

“So it depends on the environment, and it has nothing to do with RUGA at all. It’s purely for development and to engage the youth and for the benefit of the immediate community, that is what the integrated farming estate stands for.”

On President Buhari’s official visit to Imo State two days ago, Ikonne said the visit clearly showed the president’s passion and love for the people of the Southeast zone of the country.

His words: “This visit is very significant and shows the love of the president and it shows he is the president of Nigeria and he has jurisdiction in all the states. It also shows his passion, and that he always loved and still loves the Southeast. His first outing to contest, he used an Igbo man as his Vice President.

“In his second outing, he did the same too. In 2015, the president gave Igbo people four solid ministries, with substantive ministers and the chain of other ministries.

“Now look at the Aba-Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway that has been abandoned for years; today the road is not only motorable but standard that you can travel from Aba to Enugu without potholes.

“Look at the Second Niger Bridge which was also abandoned for years; today that project is nearing completion. This is just to mention but a few. The President’s coming shows that he loves the Igbo and he will keep doing more for the Igbo.” 

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