• Pays IFAD N87.1million counterpart fund
THE Ebonyi State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources recently, Mr Uchenna Orji, has appealed to the World Bank to extend the Fadama initiative to all the 13 Local Government Areas of state as the extension would ensure food sufficiency in the state.
Orji who described the Fadama initiative as `unique,’ saying the intervention had helped in solving some of the multiple challenges faced by rice producers in the state, revealed that Fadama is being practiced in seven local government areas currently.
The State Agric Commissioner therefore calls on the World Bank to expand the initiative to the remaining five local government areas so that by 2017, they should be talking about 10,000 hectares to 10,000 farmers, noting that the state was also partnering IFAD and Central Bank to assist farmers.
Orji said that the government had just purchased three parboiling machines worth eight tones each for the three senatorial districts to boil rice produced by farmers and also purchased 13 bulldozers and 40 tractors to support farmers and make rice farming an all season activity.
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He said that the government would support massive production, processing and marketing of rice to attract youths into farming, noting that the governor, David Umahi want the state to regain its status as the largest clusters of rice mill in West Africa.
In another development, the Local Government Chairman, Mr Ukpai Patrick, made an appeal to FADAMA team when they paid them a visit in Ndiagu Echara. inIkwo Local Government Area , to provide power tiller machine to help boost rice production in the state.
Patrick stated that rice farmers in his locality have many challenges among which were power tiller for clearing farmland to increase rice production, adding that farmers are still using the manual way of land clearing and planting, which is too stressful and delaying the farming processes.
He stressed that. his LGA need this modern technology, explaining that power tiller is a versatile, multi-tasked machine primarily used for the preparation of land for farming operations as the machine can be used for tilling, ploughing, weeding, pumping, leveling, ridging and the rest.
“One of the advantages of this machine is that, it can be operated hands free with a remote. Farmers can operate it at their comfort of not stepping into the field at a safe distance of 100 meters. If this modern technology is provided to rice farmers, they will be able to meet up with the crop Calendar year and avoid spending time and money on manual farming,” the Chairman said.
However, he said that the intervention of FADAMA in the community had helped them but they are seriously in need of power tiller to increase their production and food sufficiency, adding that farmers during the last farming season had an average of 5.8 to 6.2 tons per hectare of rice production in the state, as that this was a plus for them.
He further request the State Government for early disbursement of farm inputs and extension service to enable farmers start farm work on good time, noting that they need capacity building on group dynamics, record keeping and more production assets.
“The project should also serve the rice farmers best by giving them improved seeds for high yield suited to their farm locations,” he added, as he commended the FADAMA III Additional Financing team led by Dr Adetunji Oredipe, World Bank Task Team Leader (TTL), for their continued support to the community.
Oredipe, in his response, commended farmers in the community for their efforts, saying, “despite the difficult condition they found themselves, they still produce and promised to look into their challenges since they had shown a sense of readiness to perform.