By Christian Ogbonna and Rabiu Sani Ali
Rice farmers in the South-South have resolved to boost rice production to ensure food security in the zone.
Mr Sylva Ejezie, Chairman of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Delta chapter, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Asaba on Sunday that the farmers would boost cultivation this year.
He said that food security was necessary for any nation to advance in other sectors like education, manufacturing or military.
The RIFAN chairman said that advancing agri-business in the zone would make food available and create jobs for the teaming youths.
“We gathered in Delta to harness issues that will take rice farming to another level in the zone. Agriculture is a good business and we do not want to be known for militancy only.
“Some of the issues we discussed included ways to avoid combining politics and farming; I believe the cabals in politics are the setback to growing agriculture.
“We do not want to be known only for youths restiveness, militancy and kidnapping. South-South has the manpower and fertile land for farming,” he said.
The Jigawa Government had also adopted proactive farmer support programmes to boost the production of paddy rice and wheat in the state.
Gov. Badaru Abubakar disclosed this on Friday during an inspection visit to wheat plantations in Auyo Local Government Area of the state.
He said that the measures were designed to enhance the farmers’ access to fertilisers, seeds and chemicals, while encouraging farm mechanisation and crop processing.
He said that the measures would also boost project finance and enhance farmers’ skills, adding that they were particularly directed at adding value to harvested rice and wheat, providing markets for the crops and achieving self-sufficiency in rice and wheat production.
Abubakar said that the state government had distributed fertilisers and seeds to farmers for dry season farming.
The governor said that farmers in the state were expected to produce about 125, 000 tonnes of wheat and one million tonnes of rice during the rainy and dry seasons respectively.
“The state government, in collaboration with the Federal Government, implemented the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) to support farmers as well as encourage rice and wheat cultivation,’’ he said.
Abubakar said that his administration had worked out some modalities to expand the scope of the scheme to promote agricultural production.
He said that the state government, in partnership with the World Bank, would construct access roads to farmlands to ease the transportation of farm produce to the markets, while improving the socio-economic well-being of the people.