Yam Exhibition: Fr Okoye Redirects Youths’ Attention to Agriculture

 …Calls for Proper Farming Techniques

By Chioma Ndife

A priest of the Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia, CADEK, Rev. Fr. Philip Okoye, has beckoned on youths to redirect their attention to agriculture and desist from undermining the profession as it had the capacity of introducing economic boom in the nation, saying that proper farming techniques were needed for maximum yield.

Fr. Okoye made the call at Holy Family Catholic Church, Akpo, Aguata LGA, Anambra State, during the 2022 new yam exhibition tagged, ”Come See Yams 2022”.

The priest who is fondly known as “Diji” due to his many feats in yam farming, described agriculture as the biggest and fastest way of enriching the rural populace and stabilizing the polity.

He said, ‘We have no choice than to help grow agriculture in all states of the federation, create wealth and jobs, nothing that the problem in Nigeria was that consumption over production.

‘We import everything we use and eat and we cannot produce the food we eat. It’s horrible,’ he said.

‘It’s only when we begin to produce what we eat and use in this country that we can think of stabilizing our economy, otherwise nothing,’ he said.

Fr Okoye noted that farming remained his hobby, adding that he was comfortable impacting positively to the sick and elderly; even as he maintained that he was satisfied teaching the younger ones on the need to be productive through yam farming, as such would help them to keep away from vices.

He urged the government to provide financial assistance in the form of subsidies, loans and grants, to farmers in order to boost agriculture in the state.

Speaking about what motivated him into farming, Fr Okoye stated that his intention was to help in feeding the many hungry people, especially the aged and the sick, who could no longer fend for themselves. He said that the 2022 new yam exhibition was dedicated entirely for the building of the “Chapel of Divine Providence” at Holy Family Catholic Church.

He thanked God that some of the boys who he had trained already had massive yam farms which could compete with his own.

According to him, ‘There is no magic at all. Before cultivation, I invite all to come and witness what I’m doing. Maybe, I give a lot of attention to my farms.’

Earlier in his homily, Fr Ezeaka called on Christians to follow the narrow path to heaven, which, he said, had to do with sacrifice, love, faith and forgiveness.

In their separate speeches, Sir Joe Okpalaobi, High Chief Charles Obiekwe, Chief Eze Obiora and Ocheze Chika Oragwam, commended the parish priest, Fr Okoye, for his selfless efforts in the parish, especially the rapid progress which they said the parish had recorded within a short period of his stay.

The event featured  presentation of yams to  elders drawn from various zones in the parish – St Joseph’s elders – Emmanuel Mbanefo (93 years); Clement Umeokanne (92 years); Donald Mmuoka (86 years);Nkanlebe Mbanefo (90 years); Christiana Ifefigbo (84 years); St Michael’s elders – Virginia Akubuezi Okpalachukwu (94 years); Grace Ozue (93 years); Lucy Nwada Emeh (91years); Agatha Ogboeri Umenduka (90 years); Mercelina Ejinwanyi Ozue (89 years).

The elderly members from All Saints Zone were Josephat Ikediobi (98 years); Vincent Uwanga Uzoetue (95 years); Onyekamma Okpalanwaka (95 years); Bernadette Okpalaobi (93 years); Paulinus Okpalaejinkonye (85years);

The yam species that were exhibited included, Adaka Igboukwu, Adaka Obeledu, Mmumuya Adanawa and Adaka Agueri.

It will be recalled that Fr Okoye had harvested a yam tuber that weighed 161kg at Obeledu, Anaocha LGA; a tuber of yam that weighed 140kg at Nanka, Orumba North LGA. The highest of his tuber of yams harvested at Akpo, Aguata LGA, weighed 131kg.

Fides gathered that some other tubers of yam weighed 131kg, 129kg, 127kg, 123.22 kg, 118.00kg and 111.90kg, with each of the yam tubers carried by four men.

Fides also learnt that the priest had just harvested only about 40% of the planted yams and expecting to harvest much bigger yams from his farms this year.