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 thusly: 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 Murtala Nyako who later became the Adamawa State governor. It has plenty of crossbred 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 species 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 Project Director of Integrated Produce City Limited, an agric value-chain solution company, Vitus Akudinobi argues that the Efi-Igbo project should aspire towards crossbreeding high-yield species that can adapt easily to local feeds.
Akudinobi asserts that as a business the Efi-Igbo industry should aspire towards a cost-benefit analysis of the species that would produce greater quantities and qualities of milk and meat.
The Chairman, Eagle Farms, Umuchu, Aguata LGA, Prince Ugochukwu Okparaeke reveals that he started his cow-breeding business with only two Igbo species.
He started out about 18 years ago. He has over the years bred more than 300 cows. Also, he had to introduce Fulani cattle along the line, and crossbreeding eventually followed.
He had to take special cognizance of the fact that Efi-Igbo became strictly needed in many communities for cultural ceremonies such as burial and funeral rites.
Fondly called Eze Anumanu (King of Animals), Prince Okparaeke who bears the title of Oshimiri in his Ozara-Akukwa village in Umuchu is full of thanks for Governor Obiano “who is pushing for a revival of the breeding of Efi-Igbo in the state.” He adds that “many traditional rulers are endorsing the move as progressive.”
According to the fair-complexioned master farmer, “Some traditional rulers within the state and indeed the entire South East have resolved to revert to the local breed (Efi-Igbo) as the only acceptable species of cows for cultural rites.
Many of them have called to encourage us to breed the local species and applauded the state government over the move.”
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 gainsaid.