The Federal Government Rice Farms in Anambra State will be revitalized to boost rice production, create jobs and improve the living standard of the people in the state and region.
Mustapha Shehuri, the Minister of State, Agriculture and Rural Development, made this known in statement on Monday by Mr Ezeaja Ikemefuna, his Chief Information Officer.
The statement said Shehuri disclosed this during his on -the– spot assessment of Federal Government Rice Farms and Mills in Omor and Umerum, located at Ayamelum Local Government Area of the State.
The farms are under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Programme 1(ATASP-1).
Shehuri says the Federal Government is vigorously pursuing and implementing programmes to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production.
He says that this is because of rice’ strategic importance as a major staple food crop in achieving food and nutrition security, import substitution and promotion of inclusive economic growth.
The minister reaffirms that the present administration in the country has provided various interventions to promote investment in the rice sector.
“As a result of these interventions, the country has increased its production from 4.8 million metric tons of milled rice in 2015 to over 6 million metric tons by 2019.
“This constitutes a huge reduction in the nation’s deficit,” he said.
Shehuri says some of the activities undertaken by his Ministry to develop the rice sector include, provision of farm inputs such as agrochemicals and organic fertilizers.
He confirms that others are provision of knapsack sprayers, planting and harvesting equipment such as reapers, mini combine harvesters, and threshers, at subsidized rates in order to increase productivity.
The minister says the ministry has established 23 Paddy Aggregation Centers nationwide to aggregate and store paddy rice.
“The centers were given to members of the Paddy Rice Dealers Association of Nigeria (PRIDAN) under public private partnership arrangement,” he said.
Shehuri discloses that there will be dissemination of modern rice production and processing technologies through capacity building of farmers and processors directly in conjunction with international donor agencies.
“The ministry is currently responding to the challenges of food availability posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting smallholder farmers nationwide with various inputs.
“They include certified seeds of improved varieties of food crops such as rice, maize, sorghum, wheat, orange-flesh sweet potato, groundnut, cowpea, soybean, yam, as well as cash crops like cashew, cocoa, sesame, oil palm, gum Arabic,” he said.
Shehuri says others are, herbicides, pesticides and agricultural machinery such as rice reapers, transplanters, power tillers, motorized sprayers and processing equipment.
“These are expected to alleviate the effect of the pandemic on farmers and ensure that they keep producing food for the country.
“This rice farm is located here because of the recognition of Anambra State as one of the major rice producing states in the South East zone,” he said.
Shehuri thanked the government of Anambra for keying into the policies and programmes of the administration by promoting agriculture “especially rice production and processing”.
Speaking, Rep. Vincent Ofumelu, member representing Oyi/Ayamelum Constituency, at the House of Representatives appealed to the Minister to intervene in reviving the pump stations located in Ifite Ogwari and Umueje communities.
Ofumelu says this is to boost rice production and increase the locally generated revenue of the people.
He observes that the people are basically farmers and are desirous of agriculture intervention policies of the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ofumelu appeals for the provision of agricultural inputs, quality seeds and financial grant to assist farmers in the communities.