A programme supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Anambra State has targeted to produce 791,000 tonnes of rice during the current dry season.
The Value Chain Development Programme, which also supports cassava production, has farms in Orumba North, Ayamelum, Awka North, Anambra East and Anambra West local government areas.
The Programme Coordinator, Mr Nnamdi Aguncha, said that rice farmers were mobilised to farm lands covering 120 hectares in the areas.
Speaking on Wednesday when the national planning, monitoring and evaluation team of the programme inspected some of the farms, Aguncha said it was the first time the state was going into dry season rice production.
“The programme decided to encourage rice farmers for dry season farming for the first time in line with Gov. Willie Obiano’s vision to double rice production in the state.
“We assisted the farmers with land preparation and development and trained them on best agronomic practices, especially on bonding and proper water management during dry season farming.
“Our expectations are that yields will increase from four tonnes to a minimum of six tonnes per hectare and the programme will continue to assist farmers with inputs,’’ he said.
The team inspected rice farms at Owusi, Omasi, Omor, Ifite-Ogwari, Enugu-Abo, Ufuma and Umuekete-Aguleri, among other communities.
Meanwhile, Mr Mohammed Lawal, the Leader of the monitoring team, said the visit was to encourage rice farmers to cultivate rice at least twice a year.
“We have designed activities targeted toward assisting farmers to carry on agriculture as a business while they do it all-year-round through various interventions.
“We are leveraging on the federal government’s anchor borrowers programme to reach out to more local governments in the area of capacity building,” he said.
Lawal advised rice farmers to commit themselves and be determined to achieve the federal government’s objective of more food on the table and money in their pockets.
Mr Peter Emeka, the Chairman of Owusi Rice Cluster, commended the programme for its assistance and for making farming more attractive, especially to youths.
Emeka urged the state ministry of agriculture to monitor the rice seeds given to the farmers to ensure their authenticity.
“We discovered after the growth of the nursery beds that we had uneven growth which shows that it was a mixed variety,” he said.
The chairman expressed the hope that Nigeria could attain self-sufficiency in rice production by 2018 if the government sustained its support to farmers through improved seeds and inputs.
The group also visited Udoka Rice Mills, Omor and Josan Mills and Farms Industries, Ufuma, where they expressed satisfaction with the facilities on ground. ##