Chief Orji Kalu, the Senator-elect for Abia North Senatorial District, said on Sunday that his foundation, the Orji Uzor Kalu Foundation, has purchased 450,000 palm seedling for distribution to farmers in the state.
Speaking at the launch of the seedlings at his Igbere country home in Bende Local Government Area, Kalu said that the initiative was his own support to President Muhammadu Buhari’s policy to revolutionise agriculture in Nigeria.
He also said that the initiative was designed to encourage Abia farmers to go into palm plantation and other cash crops in order to create wealth.
“This is a sure way of creating wealth among the people of Abia. It is better than sharing money to them,” he said.
He said that the seedlings would be given to those with proof of ownership of family land for the palm plantation.
He said that the foundation would soon embark on the verification of land submitted by prospective beneficiaries to confirm their claims ahead of the state-wide distribution of the seedlings.
Kalu, a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress in the state, said that the distribution would cut across party line, describing the gesture as non-partisan.
He said: “The period of electioneering is over. Now is the time to give the dividend of democracy to our people, irrespective of their party affiliations.
“When the foundation distributed vehicles under its youth empowerment scheme, it cut across part line. It was non-partisan.
“The only criterion for qualification is proof of ownership of family land,” he said, adding that the size of the family land would determine the quantity of seedling to be given to people.
“If you have 100 hecters of land, you will get the quantity for that size. If you have 10 hecters, you will also be given the quantity for the size of the land,” Kalu said.
The former Abia governor urged the recipients to utilise the opportunity to create wealth and become self-reliant.
He recalled that he distributed free palm seedlings to secondary school children during his administration, saying that the beneficiaries were now reaping the benefits.
Kalu said that the dependence on importation of palm from Thailand and Malaysia would drastically reduce, by the time people would begin to harvest the fruits of the palm.
He said that it would take between two and three years for the palm to mature for harvesting.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that highlights of the launch included the symbolic handing over of some seedlings to a few beneficiaries from the three senatorial districts.