By Douglas Okoro
The Federal Government has urged local rice farmers in Ebonyi to embark on organic fertilizer production to mitigate effects of high cost of foreign fertilizer in the country.
Mr Kwaid Mohammed, Director, Farm Inputs Support Services (FISS), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, Abuja made the call at the training of 100 rice farmers on organic production in Abakaliki on Wednesday.
Mohammed, represented by Dr William Obazi, State Director, in the ministry said that the workshop was aimed at promoting organic fertilizer production and use at the local levels using eco-friendly technologies.
The director informed the farmers that the government desired to sustain the growth of the country’s agricultural sector arising from the several initiatives introduced by the ministry, part of which was the development of organic fertilizers.
According to him, the development and promotion of organic fertilizers were to bring to an end the problem of rejection of Nigerian produce in the international market.
“The Nigerian farmers, I believe, are prepared to adopt the use of organic fertilizers as the country is blessed with abundant raw materials such as plant residues; poultry dungs, livestock wastes biogas residue and agricultural by-products.
“The increasing consumer demand for organic products locally is also an indication that the sector has high growth potential.
“As you may be aware presently, most of the organic products on sale across the country are imported from overseas which needed to be bridged to generate wealth and employment, particularly among the youth,” Mohammed said.
The director advised the participants to give attention to the training reminding them that the Russian-Ukrainian conflict had hiked the cost of importation of inorganic raw materials such as Muriat of Potash (MOP).
He said that the conflict also made accessing foreign exchange difficult.
“This has made it, not only necessary, but imperative to look inward and pay attention to the local preparation of these organic fertilizers using eco-friendly local raw materials.
“The benefits of adopting the use of locally made organic formulations will no doubt reduce the cost of purchasing fertilizers (inorganic and imported organic fertilizers), and improve soil conditions and soil fertility.
“It will extend the shelf-life of organic produce and improve the general livelihood of the farmers and the populace in general,” he added.
Earlier, Mrs Janet Oluyemisi, an assistant director in the ministry said that the training programme was to ensure the better livelihood of farmers due to the current spike in the price of fertilizers in the market.
“Because we have our farmers in mind, the minister has commissioned us to see how the farmers can use the available local materials to produce organic composts that can enhance productivity,” she said.
She urged the participants to be attentive and take the training seriously to be able to take it down to their various communities.
Mrs Cordelia Agbo, one of the participants expressed gratitude to the federal government for organising the training for rice farmers in the state stressing that the knowledge acquired would help her to improve and increase her rice production.
“From this training, I will be able to produce organic fertilizer that will help increase my crop production and I’m here to learn how to use micronutrients to produce my organic fertilizers,” Agbo said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that no fewer than 100 farmers drawn from the different rice farmers associations and cooperative clusters were attending the training workshop. (NAN)