Anambra State Ventures into Cattle Rearing Business: The “Efi-Igbo” Phenomenon
–By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu*
Following the controversies trailing the suspended “Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) project of the Federal Government for Fulani herdsmen, in all the states of the country, Anambra State has launched its own cattle rearing business. The business which is big scale venture is called: “Efi Igbo”. Speaking during the official launching of the Wonder farms Umunze, a subsidiary of Eagle Foods Limited, Umuchu; Chief UgochukwuOkpalaeke (EzeUmuanumanu), said “the Efi Igbo” from Anambra State can feed the whole southern Nigeria with red meat in the next one year”.
Present at the ceremony was the state Governor, Sir Willie Obiano who expressed satisfaction at the venture and admonished “Ndi Anambra to venture into rearing of cattle business more and more” as this will encourage government’s continued tremendous job in the agriculture sector.
|The creature hit the internet with a huge hump. In no time at all, the image had gone viral. Call the phenomenon “Anambra cattle” or “Efi-Igbo” – a new star has made its majestic appearance in the Nigerian firmament. It was at a press conference in Lagos addressed by Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State some three years ago that some of us, the gathered journalists, heard of the Efi-Igbo initiative for the first time. In blazing the unique trail, the governor did not mince words about the workability of the growth of the Efi-Igbo project. The administration has since broken bold ground in this drive with the Efi-Igbo ranches of Eagle Farms Ltd, Umuchu in Aguata LGA, and Wonder Farms, Umunze in Orumba South LGA.
Chief Clement Chukwuka of the Anambra Small Business Agency (ASBA) whose organization grants facilities to dealers in of Efi-Igbo, based on directives by the governor to develop the indigenous breed of cattle, reveals that the ranching success is a major plank of reinvigorating sundry small businesses in Anambra State. The N1bn disbursed by the agency at its inception was distributed thus: 45 percent to manufacturing, 35 percent to agriculture, 12 percent to trade and commerce, and 10 percent to services. Chief Chukwuka said: “It is gratifying to note that our N1bn SME facilities granted to beneficiaries has almost zero default as no obligor has defaulted in their monthly interest payment obligations.” Also, 250 youths that underwent training at the Agricultural Training School in Mgbakwu and their counterparts who graduated from the Technology Incubation Centre in Nnewi have been mobilized.
With the synchronized government backing, the Efi-Igbo industry is poised to break into wider spheres such as the crossbreeding of Efi-Igbo and Fulani cattle. This upgrade will definitely make Efi-Igbo much bigger and, consequently, more competitive in the market. According to Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C. Don Adinuba: “I have been to a very huge farm in Adamawa State belonging to a former Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral MurtalaNyako who later became the Adamawa State governor. It has plenty of crossbreed cattle. Cattle from Europe have plenty of milk but not as much flesh as cattle from Argentina. So, cattle from Argentina and Europe were crossbred to produce a specie with plenty of milk and plenty of flesh. You can call it the science of using one stone to kill two birds, or the art of having the best of the two worlds.”
In his much-anthologized poem “Fulani Cattle”, JP Clark wrote:
Perhaps, the drover’s whip no more
On your balding hind and crest
Arouses shocks of ecstasy:
Or likely the drunken journey
From desert, through grass and forest,
To the hungry towns by the sea
Does call at least for rest
Unlike the Fulani cattle, Efi-Igbo would not undertake the debilitating journey from the desert to the sea. Through the ranching, a healthier stock will be the result. As one of Anambra State’s greatest sons, the novelist Chinua Achebe wrote, “Wherever something stands, another thing stands beside it.” Fulani cattle and Efi-Igbo will make for great progress in the celebration of Nigeria’s cherished diversity.
The Efi-Igbo phenomenon as a redoubtable alter ego to Fulani cattle clearly showcases Governor Obiano as a farsighted leader who is highly imaginative and pragmatic. His reputation as a great promoter of his people’s culture cannot be overemphasized.