Posted by Pamela Eboh, Awka | 15 December 2016 | 4,478 times
The Commissioner for Agriculture in Anambra State, Mr. Afam Mbanefo, has said that the sum of N5.4 billion has been mapped out for the ministry to help boost rice and cassava production in 2017.
He noted that the allocation which is also geared towards increasing assets and capacity development of farmers in the state was increased by 500 per cent compared to that of 2016 budget.
Mbanefo stated this on Tuesday while receiving a10-member delegation from the International Fund for Agricultural Development/Federal Government of Nigeria (IFAD-FGN) Supervision Mission to Anambra in Awka.
According to him, the proposed budget will ensure that Anambra becomes one of the top three producers of rice, maize and cassava in the country.
The Commissioner said: “We plan to develop over 100 hectares for seed multiplication in the next farming season.
“Between January and February, farmers will be overwhelmed by off-takers and millers who have indicated interest to do business in the state.”
He maintained that the state had surpassed the estimated production of 210, 000 metric tonnes of rice for 2016 due to the intervention of Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) to farmers.
Earlier, the team leader and Country Programme Officer for IFAD Nigeria, Dr. Ben Odoemenam, explained that the delegation was in the state to monitor the impact of VCDP on farmers.
He commended the state government for assisting farmers with inputs and for paying its cash counterpart fund of over N94 million for the programme in the 2016 farming season, saying that the effects of the programme in the state is the enhancement of production increase, improved minimum economic scale and the motivation of farmers to take farming as a serious business.
Furthermore, he said, “It has caused a new generation of youths to embrace farming in Nigeria.
“It is interesting to learn that rice farmers in the state are already making a net gain of N700, 000 per hectare.
“This is the second year of the intervention and has four more years to go but we have created an import substitution of about four per cent from the state alone.
“In Benue and Taraba states, we have caused import substitution by about 10 %. That means that if we can increase it by 50 %, Nigeria can come out of recession.”
Odoemanam harped on the need for mechanised farming as well as increased level of commitment by off-takers to ensure sustainability of rice production in the state.
The State Programme Coordinator of VCDP, Mr. Nnamdi Agwuncha said technical training on best agronomic practices has provided for rice and cassava farmers.
He said that 220 farmer organisations with 3,001 farmers had been networked and supported with NPK, urea and herbicides valued at over N88 million.
In his words: “VCDP has entered into partnership with the private sectors, agencies and institutions in order to strengthen beneficiaries’ capacities in production and post-harvest handling of their products.
“Farmers are making improvements. The processed rice in the state can compete favourably with any imported rice.”
The team had visited cassava farms at Igbariam and Achalla communities, and rice farms at Ifite-Ogwari and Ufuma communities as well as ongoing access road projects to farmlands at Opetepe farm cluster and Iyiagwu road in Ifite-Ogwari community and Owusi farm cluster in Omor community.
They also visited two off-takers, Josan Agro Ltd., at Ufuma community and Udoka Rice Mill Industries at Omor community for on the spot assessment of their level of production and challenges.
•Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State.
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