FG Gears-up Actions to Support Rice Production in Akwa Ibom

*as Presidency leads CBN, NDDC, CRBDA, ors on Facility Tour

✍️ Joseph Atainyang

The Federal Government of Nigeria has intensified actions in support of rice production in Akwa Ibom State.

The goal, according to authorities, is to pursue increased food production and improved crop yield, through mechanized farming, not only for food sufficiency but also for possible exportation.

The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, through the Emergency Agricultural Programme, is facilitating soft loans to assist farmers expand their production capacity.

Leading a multi-sectoral federal government team, including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Cross River Basin Development Authority (CRBDA), the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA), among others, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang said the agencies were collaborating to give the necessary support to local farmers.

Ita Enang on Friday, led the team to the Rice Farms in Ikot Essen in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area of the State.

He explained that government was facilitating loans through the COVID-19 response for farmers to expand their agricultural activities.

According to Senator Ita Enang, while NALDA was to test and prepare land and then decide what could best be planted for optimum yield, the NDDC would supply inputs by providing water pomp, power tiller, improved seedlings and fertilizers.

Enang who stated that the programme aimed at nurturing the entire agricultural value chain, including rice productive, piggery, livestock farming, poultry and integrated farming, called on the farmers to remain committed and dedicated as their efforts would not be in vain.

In his remarks, the Deputy Director of CBN in charge of Southsouth, Dr Aniefiok Umoren who said it was time for government to support farmers with improved seedlings for improved crop yield, pointed out that by rice farming, the natives were supporting industrial revolution to create employment; expanding the country’s GDP, reducing inflation and reversing the rural-urban migration.

Also speaking, the Assistant Director, Administration, Gender and Human Resources of the Cross River Basin Development Authority, Mrs Idongesit Mbuk said she was representing the Managing Director of the agency.

Flanked by the Principal Agric Overseer, Mr. Victor S. Udo, Idongesit Mbuk disclosed that CRBDA develops lands for the people, especially farmers, using novel ideas to improve crop yields.

“Part of what we will do is to provide the variety of rice with high yield and productivity. We shall provide fertilizers and herbicides for farmers, link them to offtakers and train them on how to apply the herbicides to ensure health insurance”, she said.

Similarly, the Managing Director of SACAM Agro Processing Mills, Mr Simon Okode revealed that though his industry had the challenge of raw material, the land in Akwa Ibom was more fertile to ensure better yield than those in the northern States.

Simon Okode who said the only Major challenge was that of developing the land, maintained that the over 205 hectres of land would sufficiently feed his rice mill, if developed to ensure three seasons of annual planting.

However, the Chairman of rice farmers association, Mr Emmanuel Usua who said they were 52 farmers in all, called on the federal government to assist them with road grading to ensure easier conveyance of rice, and at least 7.5 horsepower engine to get enough water to feed the plantation.

Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of NELDA, Mr Paul Ikone, through the Akwa Ibom State Coordinator, Barr Imoh Imoh, was represented at the trip by a volunteer officer, Surv Bat Ojoko and a project supervisor, Mr. Ubong Udok.

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