Ogun State government has concluded plans to roll out about 150,000 bags of its MITROS Rice, for the Yuletide, as part of efforts to ensure food security in the state.
This development is as result of the rice revolution, which started in 2013, but was launched last year, to revive rice farming in the state.
This year’s output according to the Commissioner for Agriculture, Adepeju Adebajo, is 7,500 tons, which is 50 per cent increase over what was produced last year.
Adebajo disclosed that the state cultivated over 1,200 hectares of rice at Onigbedu (50 ha), Isola (100 ha), Iselu (50 ha) and Eggua 1,000ha in three segments. He added that government adopted contracting-farming approach, while some are by Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) and FADAMA.
Aside government farms, there are other farms scattered across the state like Imobi, Imaka, Onidundu, Sohunmi, Agodo, among others, which government has promised to take over if the farmers are willing to sell.
During the tour meant to showcase what the state has done and the ongoing processing of rice ahead December period, The Guardian gathered that government supported farmers through the Adopted Contracting-Farming Approach to clear of farmlands, provide inputs and later off-take the produce after harvest.
The Guardian learnt that the state is adopting best mechanisation practices from production to processing to ensure that rice produced in state meets international standard.
For instance, in Eggua, where a section of the farm is still being harvested, The Guardian noticed that a combine harvester is used for harvesting, instead of manual labour. Aside harvesting of rice, the harvester threshes, winnows and bags paddy, ready for drying before processing.
In Sawonjo, where the state’s four tons per hour rice mill is situated, aside those still undergoing drying and milling, the processed rice — Ofada and Faro 44 (long grain) — has been bagged and ready for market.
The Commissioner disclosed that over half of the 20 Local Council Areas, which cover about 30 communities are rice producing communities, adding that the state has taken a further step to improve the mechanization process in use with the addition of drones and 22 bulldozers.
She said: “Rice revolution is here to stay. We love the taste of our local rice, it is nutritious and very healthy; with this, we need not import rice. It is not just encouraging farmers to grow rice, but to make it sustainable and successful and it is here to stay. I can assure you that our rice will be available in the market and beyond December.”
Coordinator, State Rice Team/State Programme Coordinator, IFAD VCDP, Samuel Adeogun, said the Federal Government has assisted rice production in the state, in a very big way. “If you recall last year, when the MITROS Rice was launched, it prepared the ground for easy mobilisation of farmers to go into rice farming and this year the state supported farmers to produce rice alongside FG support through the IFAD VCDP.
“This year, because farmers are highly mechanised from land clearing to harvesting, so the yields are moving up. And this is also the first time we are introducing the planting of Faro 44, and with the good agronomy practices, we’ve been able to see improvement in the yields.”
Adeogun added that there are over 20,000 rice farmers in the state, but in the Eggua rice farm project over 1,000 farmers were allowed to cultivate 1,000 ha.
One of the participating farmers, Mr. Olugbenga Popoola described the project as tremendous, saying they are making more profit and commended the state governor and the Commissioner for it.
Popoola appealed to government to do more by encouraging farmers with inputs among others.