Such projects it was learnt that include-FADAMA 111AF; Anambra World Bank rice irrigation project; Federal Government Anchor borrowers’ project; National program for rice and cassava production. The state also increased rice and cassava yields by keying into the Casakawa global 2000 project, the Atas 1 and IFAD value chain development programmes.
The Commissioner of Agriculture, Mr. Afam Mbanefo, disclosed that the feat was due to the blueprint adopted by the present administration in its large-scale commercial and small scale farms developed in various parts of the state.
Aside the listed projects, government partnered Cosaris farms, Stine industries Ltd, Wisdom and Udoka rice mill industries at Omor.Mbanefo noted that the state had surpassed the estimated production of 210,000 metric tonnes of rice for 2016, due to the intervention of Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) to farmers, adding that the state is planning to develop over 100 hectares for seed multiplication in next the farming season.
He pointed out that the state government has allocated over N5.4 billion to agriculture in this year’s budget to boost rice and cassava production to ensure that food gets to the table of citizens.
The commissioner said the allocation, which also aims at increasing assets and capacity development of farmers has been increased by 500 per cent, compared to the 2016 budget. And between January and February, off-takers and millers who have indicated interest to do business in the state will overwhelm farmers.
Director of Extension Services, (Agricultural Development Programme), of the ministry, Mrs. Ifeyinwa Uzoka, said the strategy used to reach the farmers was through the cooperatives groups, by which they were provided support such as improved rice variety long grain (Faro 44), insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers. They were also linked with the state tractor services, which helped them to reduce cost of labour, especially land cultivation.
Through government assistance many farmers, especially those in the remote and riverine areas were reached.She said all farmers were captured in the Ministry’s database, through global positioning system with a central control room in the Ministry for supervision and monitoring.
Mr Akai Egwuonwu, a rice miller, said the country could be self-sufficient in rice production if the Federal Government maintained a stable policy in rice business. He said his company, which produces about 440 tons of rice per day, had embarked on expansion programmes to increase capacity to meet local demand.
According to him, “Poor electricity supply, high cost of diesel and importation of spare parts, as well as, high cost of fuel used for transportation are some of the challenges affecting rice production in the state.
“Our generators consume about 1,400 litres of diesel daily; if that cost is taken-off, as well as, have some of the challenges resolved, nothing stops the price of local rice from selling wee below N10, 000 for the 50 kilogram,” he said.