In the 80s, then Governor of Imo State (made up of current Abia, Imo and parts of Ebonyi States), Chief Sam Mbakwe, launched an ultra modern poultry complex known as Avutu Modern Poultry Farm in Obowo (in present day Imo State). It was celebrated then as the biggest poultry farm in Nigeria with modern facilities and capacity to provide tens of thousands of birds, eggs as well as feeds.
Sadly, Avutu poultry farm fortunes dwindled after the exit of Dee Sam Mbakwe.
In neighboring Abia, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu dreamed up a new poultry farm but with a different model from what the legendary Dee Sam executed albeit with same objective of providing poultry products and allied inputs such as feeds. The Ikpeazu model centers around decentralized facilities located in Nsulu Isiala Ngwa of Abia Central Senatorial Zone, Item in Abia North Senatorial Zone and Ovom in Abia South Senatorial Zone of the state.
While the Mbakwe poultry farm was basically established to produce and sell poultry products, the Ikpeazu cluster model is designed to do the same in addition to serving as a training center for young Abians who wish to engage in poultry farming as a means of earning a livelihood. Each cluster is expected to train and employ a minimum of 1,000 youths who will also benefit from a CBN facility that will help them establish their own farms.
Each cluster hosts an ultra modern administrative building including classrooms, hostels and top class trainers.
The recently opened Nsulu poultry cluster located in Isiala Ngwa North LGA is the first of 3 to be established by the Ikpeazu administration. Over 60,000 birds are currently located within the facility which has the capacity to take as much as 100,000 birds. The second cluster is under construction in Item and it is expected to be completed next year.
According to Governor Ikpeazu, the concept and vision to do the clusters was “borne out of the need to bridge the gap between knowledge and practical agriculture. We thought it wise to look at the reason many young people are no longer interested in poultry farming and our studies indicate that many of them are not mentally prepared for what it takes to go into poultry farming. It is not just enough to have money to buy day-old chicks, build pens and buy feeds and start your own poultry farm. There is need for a potential poultry farmer to pass through some tutelage and know the dynamics of procuring feeds, type of feeds to procure and at what time and for how long you need to feed your birds. You must also know the imperatives of vaccination and other services that will be provided by the veterinary services department. Beyond that, you must know and learn that you must love your birds and chicks just like you love yourself. Government decided to create a cluster to hold down these variables that would have ordinarily confused the young poultry farmer. So that as you take part in what is happening in this cluster, first, you will be taken to a classroom where you will be taught the rudiments of poultry farming and then from there you will receive support from our warehouse of feeds, the nutritious Abia feeds for poultry which I am proud to declare is also manufactured in this cluster and they are the best in the market. By holding down these variables, we are able to guarantee 95% or more success rate for young farmers. Our objective is to tackle the twin problem of unemployment and food security.”
The poultry cluster project is another testament to Governor Ikpeazu’s capacity to evolve solutions that create jobs, deliver on food security and position the state for trans-generational excellence. In 2018, he planted four million high yielding tenera specie palm seedlings and distributed same across the state to replace the wild type of palm seedlings mainly grown by the legendary Late M I Okpara administration of the 60s. It is expected that by 2021, the Ikpeazu palms would be yielding optimally, hence, the current drive by Governor Ikpeazu to establish cottage palm processing facilities across the 17 LGAs of the state. He has also supported the resuscitation of the iconic Golden Guinea Breweries also established by Dr Okpara.
In 2015, Governor Ikpeazu told journalists that his leadership role models were Chief Sam Mbakwe and Dr M.I. Okpara. Those who have observed his development paradigm that focuses on delivering high quality road infrastructure to enable his administration’s pillars of development: Agriculture, Education, SME Development, Trade, Oil and Gas Development, will agree that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu is one leader that Abians and Ndigbo will celebrate long after he has completed his tenure in 2023.
With the state’s mushroom farm also contributing to family income in Abia State using the well known Ikpeazu’s agricultural entrepreneurship development model, support for Abia rice farmers and the soon to bud Agro-Industrial cluster planned for Ubani Ibeku In Umuahia North LGA, it is safe to say that on all scores, Governor Ikpeazu is living true to his Scholar in Government title.