Chief Silvanus Ejezie, Chairman, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Delta chapter, has called on the State Government to provide farmlands in the wetland for dry season farming.
Ejezie made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Asaba on Sunday.
He said that the association had identified some wetland across the state suitable for all-year farming.
The chairman urged the state government to procure such areas, clear and allocate them to farmers for the purpose of all-year farming.
He said that the association had proposed a release of five hectares of land by every local government area in the state for the cultivation of rice, in order to boost production.
Ejezie noted that unlike in the northern part of the country, there were no dams in the southern states to encourage all-year farming.
“Our challenge for not going into all-year farming is because we do not have dams like our counterparts in the North.
“So, engaging in dry season farming here is just trial. But if the state government encourages the 25 local government areas to provide land for rice cultivation, Delta will produce more rice.
“If government helps to clear such wetland in Ndokwa area and some other parts of the state, it will support dry season farming and boost rice production.
“By so doing, the cost of farming will be reduced and we can make more progress,” he said.
Ejezie said that currently, rice farmers managed to engage in dry season cultivation by irrigating the farmlands with water from boreholes.
The chairman said that the practice had remained very challenging and expensive due o the high cost of fuel to power the pumping machines.
On the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) in the state, he said that the participating farmers who had already been trained were still hoping and waiting for the funds to be released.
NAN recalls that the CBN in 2016 commenced the pilot phase of the programme with rice production in Kebbi state.
The ABP aims at creating economic linkages between over 600,000 smallholder farmers and reputable large-scale processors with a view to increasing agricultural output and significantly improving capacity utilisation of integrated mills.
It is also expected to close the gap between the levels of local rice production and domestic consumption, as well as complement the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) Scheme of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture by graduating GES farmers from subsistence farming to commercial production.