By Gertrude Onyekachukwu-Uteh
ANIUCHI IFEANYI ERNEST is one of the GEEP beneficiaries with IMC Oil Palm Plantations, Nsukwa. He hails from Ndokwa East Local Government Area and is an Agricultural Economics graduate from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He also has a National Diploma Certificate in Agricultural Technology from the then Delta State College of Agriculture, Ozoro. Ifeanyi is currently the Out-grower Manager in the company. I has gained experience over the years through trainings and practical supervision of IMC plantation. He is a seasoned oil palm farmer, oil farm plantation consultant and manager, married and is concluding a masters degree programme in International Agribusiness and Food Chain Management in Lead City University, Ibadan. He shares his success story:
“In 2016, it was announced that all Deltans who studied Agriculture should submit their details to the newly created Job Creation Bureau. I took advantage of the opportunity and was later invited for an interview in an oil palm estate where I was trained in the oil palm plantation business and employed to work as a Plantation Development Supervisor in IMC Oil Palm Plantations Limited.
“My experience in the oil palm plantation business has been memorable. At first, I was completely naive in that enterprise of agriculture. After a month with the oil palm company, I was trained by different international experts in oil palm namely Solidaridad West Africa and Ghana Sumatra all from Ghana, and also had series of internal training by expatriates in the company.
“Thereafter, my interest in the industry was aroused and I started developing myself on the job. I learned Best Management Practices (BMP) in oil palm production and management. These include modern technologies in planting of oil palm, harvesting, pruning, circle weeding, slashing, types of chemical herbicides and fungicides, three R’s of fertilizer application (right time, right place, right quantity and right type of fertilizer).
I learned about general field management such as how to manage the field workers, right time and seasons to carry out some particular operations in the field. I also learnt how to make presentations such as daily, weekly, monthly and annual reports, effective use of computer and Excel sheets for reporting.
Others are training on bee-keeping for pollination and the use of the E-prod software for out-grower farmer’s data entries. Indeed, it has been an inexhaustible list experience in the business of oil palm plantation and management.
“Two years later, I was promoted to management position in April, 2019 where I was saddled with the responsibility of an Out-grower Manager. Out-grower is an integral department of the company where we reach out to all small holder oil palm farmers as off-taker of their produce by providing ready market for them. We also provide the farmers with quality Tenera seedlings, technical advice and other inputs just to help the farmers grow in their oil palm business.
Responsibility as the Outgrower Manager is quite challenging, but at the same time it has also given me a lifetime experience in agricultural extension service delivery and general management.
“Talking about the benefits and impact of GEEP, it is a life changing programme. My life has changed because I am now a successful consultant in the field of oil palm business.
“I have been able to register my consultancy business name with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and I comfortably run my consultancy firm side by side without any conflict of interest with my company.
“I have also acquired a large expanse of land which I am developing into an oil palm plantation. I am confident that I have built a lasting career in the industry.
“In 2018, I got married to my beautiful wife. I want to conclude by saying that there is no better profession than agriculture. I plead with the Smart Governor to expand the scope of GEEP by enrolling more Deltans into the programme.