Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Anambra State Government
Steps to acquire 100 hectares of farmland from Anambra State Government, Nigeria
The search for farmland in Anambra State was undertaken on Dr. Mrs. Cordelia Uddoh’s behalf by her immediate younger brother who remained in Nigeria following her father’s funeral. Dr. Uddoh’s goal was to buy hundreds of acres of arable land in Anambra State at an incredible price. Her mission is to help produce healthy crops and provide employment for people in both Anambra State and Nigeria at-large. However, based on her cousin’s suggestion, they visited the agriculture department of Anambra State because of the incentive programs in place to help farmers. Her brother also met with the consultant for the department of agriculture who confirmed that the state government indeed had a great program to incentivize farmers. This confirmation and subsequent advice of the consultant, led to the cancelation of the private land purchase; thus, setting the stage for a partnership with Anambra State Government in January 2017.
This development birthed the preparation and submission of a proposal, as was suggested by experts, to the Anambra State Government which was approved. However, because her brother had to return to the USA, another cousin was hired to take over as project manager.
Successful entry level requirements were met and the stage was set for the next step, which was to meet with the Commissioner for Agriculture.
Within the first quarter of 2017, an introductory and preparatory meeting for a presentation to Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA) was held. To present their case to ANSIPPA, they were required to hire an agronomist, an accountant, and a marketer, making a total of four employees on monthly payroll (including the project manager). Dr. Mrs. Cordelia Uddoh made two trips to Nigeria at this stage. Part of the preparation was to write an elaborate proposal, have a budget, and provide proof of funding. The agronomist and the accountant helped in formulating the proposal and budget. Office equipment such as laptop computers, cell phones, printer, adapters, and converters were shipped from the U.S to Anambra State. These elaborate preparations helped boost their case. Each person at the meeting with ANSIPPA had a laptop to make presentations. This was an impressive showing by the Nko team, to say the least. The team was made up of the project manager, agronomist, accountant, marketer, attorney, and Dr. Cordelia N. Uddoh.
Different layers of the meeting with ANSIPPA
l: Management Team and Public-Private Partnership Team (PPPT): The process was multifaceted.
First, there was a review of the proposal, and financial documents to determine the capacity of the investor, Dr./Mrs. Cordelia Uddoh. After this stage, additional demands were made to explore export licenses, local and federal certifications as well as look into how Ghana succeeded when other countries were struggling with yam exportation. These demands prompted the agronomist to travel to Ghana to gather information. Before that, he traveled all over Nigeria to interview yam farmers. When the pertinent information was gathered, her team went back to PPPT for final review. The updated proposal was sent to the governing council of ANSIPPA. The governing council is made up of high-profile professionals some of whom head big corporations in the USA and Europe.
2: Meeting with ANSIPPA Governing Council: The governing council was headed by Late Igwe Cyril Enweze. Dr./Mrs. Cordelia Uddoh returned to Nigeria for this meeting. Her team made a presentation outlining the vision and road map of the yam production, processing, packaging, exportation, and the financial capacity available. Their presentation drew a rousing applause from everyone present. Their case was immediately approved for 100 hectares out of 200 hectares requested, with a clause stipulating that after they have successfully cultivated the approved 100 hectares, they can return for more farmland. The Managing Director of ANSIPPA, Late Joel Ekwunife openly announced the approval on that day. The approval was subsequently sent to the State Executive Council chaired by the state Governor, Chief Obiano. It was approved at the state level having fulfilled all the requirements. The ceremonial MOU signing took place on October 24, 2018, and was covered by seven TV channels.
Challenges: After the ceremonial MOU, Dr. Mrs. Cordelia Uddoh had to return to sign the real MOU at which point she visited the farmland. The rainy season at the time revealed the susceptibility of the area to erosion. The road was inaccessible by vehicle. Also, the farmland was encumbered with many demands from landowners.
Solution: Finally, due to the attendant problems with erosion-prone land at Achalla, the State and Nko agreed to relocate the project to another area.
School of Agriculture
There are plans to build a school of agriculture that would attract the best agronomists in the world to teach farmers the best farming techniques. This project will be completed in 2022.