By Nicholas Obisike
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), on Thursday distributed starter packs, worth N1.5 million, to 30 farmers in South East to increase Rice Production in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 25kg of certified rice seeds of FARO 44 variety, three litres of 2,4-D post emergence herbicide and two litres of liquid fertilizer went to each farmer.
The distribution of the materials took place at the FMARD office in Enugu with farmers from Anambra, Imo, Ebonyi, Abia and the host state, Enugu, in attendance.
In his opening address, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammed Abubakar, said the Ministry is working towards making the nation self-sufficient in rice production and export.
Arthur Mbuba, the state director FMARD, Anambra, who represented the Minister, said the purpose of the intervention is to bolster rice production in all parts of the country.
“We are also producing and distributing Flood Certified seeds of FARO 66 and 67 to farmers along the riverine areas to mitigate the effect of flood as witnessed recently.
“The Ministry provides farm equipment in form of tillers, transplanters, rice reapers, thrashers and other simple farm tools to smallholder farmers in different locations at subsidised rates.
“In continuation, government decided to identify genuine Rice Farmers, Smallholder farmers in conjunction with state agricultural development project (ADPs).
“Also, state ministries of agriculture, natural resources, Rice Farmers’ Associations and other relevant stakeholders in the value chain were identified for continued support to farmers in line with our mandate,” Abubakar said.
Mr Peter Nwaogor, state coordinator from Enugu State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said FMARD is seriously working towards food security in the country.
Nwaogor who represented the Commissioner, Mr Mathew Idu, said FMARD is using various activities, programmes and technologies to improve farming in the country.
“Government policy on rice production has been to generate massive employment, eliminate hunger and poverty in the communities,” he said.
Mr Ayeleke Dauda of the Federal Department of Agriculture, told farmers to utilise the opportunity created in their own interest.
Explaining good agricultural practice and effective use of Agro-chemical in rice Production, Dauda said that rice grows well in dry season than rainy season.
“Rice farming in dry season is free from pesticide attacks and devoid of the diseases that go with stagnant water,” he said, urging farmers to use soil that retains water.
“In rice farming, nursery remains the best and transplanting should start from the 14th day to 21 days and ensure that you apply other things at the right time,” he said.
Dr. Benjamin Puja, from FMARD South East regional office, said the programme was a wonderful one and believed that new Nigeria flowing with milk and honey is possible.
Puja, who represented Mr Kehis Felix, the regional director, advised farmers to be committed as there are more benefits to farming.
Mr Linus Nkwuda, chairman of Abakaliki Rice Mill, Ebonyi, said he feels happy being part of the project and wished to use the opportunity to appreciate the Federal government.
“Federal Government has done great in terms of empowering the youths, farmers, and I will say this is one among many that has been coming farmers way.
“This intervention will go along way in re-positioning the farmers and the new variety will improve production, good yields, capacity and food supply in the country,” Nkwuda said. (NAN)