|Bags of rice|
The Anambra State Commissioner for Agriculture, Afam Mbanefo, said on Monday that the state has reached self-sufficiency in rice production.
Mr. Mbanefo made the disclosure at a Commodity Alliance Forum/Consultative meeting organised by the state Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) in Awka.
The Commissioner recalled that the state government had earlier targeted production of 210,000 metric tonnes of rice per annum.
“Based on the calculation of our expected yield, we are expecting to realise over 236,000 metric tonnes of rice in 2016 based on the production capacity.”
Mr. Mbanefo said the calculation was based on expected yield of 35 per cent of over 14,300 farmers and the activities of programmes like the VCDP and FADAMA.
He said the expected yield also included the activities of rice investors in the state, including Coscharis farms, Joseph Agro and others.
He said the state government was passionate about revolutionising agriculture and making it wealth creator, especially for unemployed youth willing to venture into the sector.
The commissioner, who said the state government ensured a linkage between farmers and off-takers, advised farmers yet to form cooperatives to do so.
Earlier, the National Programme Coordinator for VCDP, Ameh Onoja, said the aim of the programme was to assist the Federal Government to reduce spending on importation of rice.
According to him, the overall goal is to ensure that rural poverty is reduced and to ensure accelerated economic growth is achieved on a sustainable and inclusive basis.
Mr. Onoja, who was represented by Basil Esinulo, said the project was developed to address some major constraints militating against agricultural development such as the poor organisation of farmers, processors and marketing.
Other constraints, he said, included lack of rural infrastructure, particularly rural roads, water supply and market as well as poor access to production.
According to him, tremendous boost in rice production will be achieved to increase incomes and food security in the country.
The acting state Programme Coordinator for VCDP, Bonaventure Mochebe, said the forum was organised to deliberate on issues that affect farmers and to seek ways to address the challenges.
He said that the forum would link farmers with financial institutions, off-takers, civil society organisations and other stakeholders in the rice business.
Mr. Mochebe urged the government to rescue farmers whose three hectares of rice farmland were destroyed by Fulani herdsmen.
He said on the sideline of the programme that Fulani herdsmen’s cattle had destroyed over three hectares of rice farmland.
The forum also witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), by the farmers, agro-dealers and off-takers to strengthen their partnership and capacity of production.