By Ifeanyi Olannye
The Delta Chapter of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) has lauded Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa for training no fewer than 90 rice farmers in the state, ahead of the 2022 farming season.
The RIFAN State Chairman, Chief Sylvanus Ejezie gave the commendation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday, in Asaba.
He said that the training was apt to get farmers ready and to adopt best practices in the cultivation of rice, to ensure high quality yield.
According to Ejezie, adequate knowledge of the soil texture and of the environment was necessary for farmers to understand their terrain and navigate through it to escape the impacts of flood and drought.
“I want to appreciate His Excellency, Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa and the state Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, for training no fewer than 90 rice farmers on best practices of production recently, ahead of this year’s planting season.
“The trained farmers are expected to cultivate about 180 hectares of land for rice production across the state.
“Besides, the state government has provided a loan support to the farmers and had pledged to off-set 30 per cent of the total costs per hectare to encourage the farmers ,” Ejezie said.
He, however, blamed the low harvest of paddy rice in the state on farmers’ lack of adequate knowledge of their environment and inadequate farmer support.
Government needed to also support the farmers by opening up farm lands and land preparations, among others, to enhance production so as to address the rising demand for rice in the state, he added.
“Our farmers are yet to understand the terrain of the land where they farm.
More so, the farmers face either flood or drought each farming season, which informs why we have not been able to produce enough paddy rice to meet the demands of the off-takers and the millers in the state.
“Before now, we talk about flood challenges, but last year it was the issue of drought, and our farmers were terribly affected otherwise, we would have had enough supplies last year, to meet the demands of our off-takers.
“In addition to that, we need government assistance in the area of machinery, as at today, the state does not have combine harvester, not enough tractors for land preparation and no seed planter, among others.
“All these and more are setbacks to rice cultivation and harvests in the state.
“So, if government can help us to prepare at least 2,000 hectares of land with irrigation facilities at various locations across the state, we can farm rice twice a year and by so doing produce more paddy for the millers in the state,” he said.
On the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme, Ejezie said that the association was yet to receive inputs supply for the 2022 farming season.
According to him, members were supposed to have started planting this year but they were yet to receive their inputs from the national RIFAN for this farming season.(NAN) (www.nannews.ng)