By Ginika Okoye
The Federal Government has taken further steps to boost rice and animal feed production through the distribution of implement to farmers.
The government has started the distribution of farm implements including cattle feed mills and rice milling machines to farmers.
The gesture is to increase local rice production and end farmers/herdsmen clashes across the country.
Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the move was also to use agricultural wastes in feeding cattle and the larger ruminants.
Ogbeh said in Oja Community, Otukpo Council Area of Benue State on Sunday, that the farm implements, which include reapers, threshers, pre-cleaner of rice, and feed mills would help in improving the quality of locally produced rice.
“This is one of the most strategic visit that we are paying anywhere. I am glad that the media are here to see the challenges facing agriculture.
“There is so much rice grown in this country that if we harvest all the stalks, there will be enough feed for cattle to last two years from every years’ harvest.
“We are beginning an experiment today to end a problem that is getting very dangerous for Nigeria.
“More of these locally fabricated machines will be built and given to farmers.
“As we begin this experiment, we will organise more funds to build more machines to distribute nationwide.
“This is the solution and we believe that now that harvest is beginning, between now and the end of the year, we will have harvested enough residue and provided enough feed for the cattle in different parts of the country.
“When this happens, we will minimise, or succeed in eliminating completely any further conflicts.
“In the next two weeks, you will see us distributing these machines, it will be spread to the North East, West, Anambra, Ebonyi, Ogun, Katsina, Jigawa,’’ Ogbeh said.
The minister said that the equipment would be given to youth farmers to handle on credit and at discounted rates.
The Traditional Ruler of Otukpo, Chief John Eyimonye, appreciated the Federal Government for the equipment.
According to him, with these equipment, our rice farming and production next year will be unprecedented.
“I will like to use this opportunity to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for this kind gesture to our community. This will help us a lot,’’ he said.
The traditional ruler, however, appealed to the government to provide feeder roads and dams that would facilitate the movement of agricultural goods from farms to the markets and boost production of food.
The Youth Leader of the community, Mr Agaba Inalegwu, who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries, appreciated the Federal Government, adding that the youths would ensure the maintenance and security of the equipment.
Mr Charles Frimpong, the fabricator of the machines, said the machines had the capacity to produce two to two and a half tonnes per hour, adding that it would make agricultural activities easier.
Frimpong also the Managing Director of Hanigha Nigeria Limited, said the company would collaborate with other local fabricators of agricultural equipment to produce more of the machines for distribution to other states.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the distribution would be replicated in every state of the country. (NAN)