By Oge Onyeanusi, Nnewi
Umuona community in Aguata Local Government Area, Anambra State, has rewarded 16 farmers, who showed exceptional hard work in 2020 to enhance their agrarian activities.
Speaking during the ceremony held at his palace, His Royal Highness Igwe Humphrey O. Ejesieme said the initiative was to encourage famers in the community to work and be able to put food on their tables.
He said, “our main purpose is to promote dignity of labour, reward hard work and encourage all of us to be diligent in whatever we do.
“Our people are predominantly farmers, so, to be able to excel, we cannot remain peasant farmers. We must do something extraordinary. We have just rewarded farmers who proved that they are ready to go extra mile in their yam production.
“We believe that this reward will encourage others to work harder, not only to win in the coming season, but also to have plenty of farm produce to sell in exchange for other things they need.
“In many parts of the world, farmers are among the richest in the society. So, we challenge our farmers to be diligent in their works in order to excel.”
While performing the rituals of cutting the new yam, Igwe Ejesieme monarch noted that Festival comes every last Friday in August. He encouraged elderly people, parents, to propagate the spirit of hardwork among the youth.
He noted that the 2020 New Yam Festival was celebrated in a low key, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We would not have performed it at all, but without this ritual, our people, who planted yams will neither harvest nor eat them. We have fully observed the COVID-19 protocols, as dictated by government,” he said.
Men and women, entered for the competition, which was sponsored by Igwe Ejesieme in collaboration with the Umuona Progress Union (UPU).
At the end of the screening, 16 outstanding farmers were selected by a committee headed by the community’s President General, Dr Silas Akanaeme.
Mrs Beatrice Okafor, who entered into the competition with a yam tuber weighing 34.8kg, was adjudged best yam farmer for 2020 season. She won a 750 litre water tank, 2 hoes and a cutlass.
Chief Oliver Umeh, whose yam tuber weighed 29kg, came second, and won a 500 litre water tank, 2 hoes and a cutlass.
Mr Nicholas Udiliaja, who came third position, with an 18kg tuber of yam, won a wheel barrow, two hoes and a cutlass.
Mrs Adaobi Akanaeme, the wife of the President General of Umuona, who harvested 240 tubers of yam, the highest by any of the contestants, was rewarded with a wheel barrow, two hoes and a cutlass.
Other contestants were also rewarded with different categories of awards and gifts.
The priest in charge of St. Mathias Anglican Church, Umuona, Rev. Chijioke Anolue, urged the community to always put God first in all their undertakings.
Igwe Ejesieme (6th from left) with others during the cutting of the new yam.