Posted by By Chukwujekwu Ilozue, Special Correspondent, Onitsha on
With the release of N150million out of the N200million secured by the Anambra State Government and disbursed to farmers....
With the release of N150million out of the N200million secured by the Anambra State Government and disbursed to farmers, the stage is set for a bumper harvest of rice, according to chairman of the Rice Farmers Cooperative Society (RFCS), Chief John Modokwe.
He said, already, 40 hectares of Fadama land have been cultivated with rice in Omor, Ayamelum Local Council of the state under the collaborative arrangement between the government and farmers under the auspices of the state Rice Farmers Co-operative Union Limited, to boost food production in the state this farming season.
Modokwe told Daily Independent in Awka that the Anambra/Imo River Basin Development Authority gave the rice farmers a large expanse of swampy irrigable land, adding that a giant rice mill has been installed at Omor for processing of the produce to meet international standard.
"The rice mill complex has parboiling, milling, destoning and bagging units and components with installed capacity to produce over 10,000 metric tonnes of high quality rice annually, while the 3,000 farmers under the co-operative movement has embarked on two cropping seasons yearly in order to exploit the opportunity of the Federal Government's ban on imported rice as well as consolidate the state's economy", he said.
He thanked the state governor, Dr Peter Obi, for availing the farmers "this unprecedented financial assistance, which we will use judiciously for massive food production."
He pointed out that a special monitoring committee has been raised for the realisation of the farmers' target.
Modokwe appealed for increased Federal assistance to complement the efforts of the state government for a bumper harvest. Specifically, he requested for more tractors, chemicals, wheelbarrows, bicycles and other agricultural inputs to justify the embargo on foreign rice as well as enhance production of staple food for local consumption and exportation as foreign exchange earner for the nation.
Owing to the importance the government places on agriculture, Obi's first trip to Abuja on assumption of office was to negotiate for soft loans for its farmers. He had lamented that in the past six years of his predecessorís regime, the state had not exploited loans from international donors which otherwise would have been utilised by farmers to enhance food production.
But fears have also been expressed that if the loans are not disbursed in time, the farmers might sideline farming for which the loan are meant for and trading with the money.