…Gives out farming inputs for improved produce
…US Dept of Agric expected Nigeria’s rice import to rise 9% in 2020
Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has trained 40 rice farmers in Edo State on rice value-addition, a feature grossly lacking among many Nigerian producers.
Through the Department of Agricultural Extension Services, the training is on rice production, processing and marketing, with the objective to enhance productivity. To create jobs as well as develop rice enterprises in Nigeria, said Frank Kudla, the Director of the department.
At the macro-level, Nigeria posts miserable statistics about manufacturing in value-addition (MVA) status, which drives trade. For example, Nigeria’s share in world trade is mere 0.33 per cent, while its share in African trade is only 19 per cent below its share of Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In logistics, it currently ranks 103 out of 167.
The agric ministry noted that the training was geared towards enhancing rice productivity among farmers in the state, and getting them earn improved income via value-addition.
Kudla said the empowerment of women and youths on rice production was due to high consumption rate of rice in the country, which has led to over-dependence on imports.
Nigeria, with 21 rice mills, cannot meet its rice demands due to unserviceable machines, lack of access by rice farmers to equipment required for rice production. Importation to meet growing has been rising since 2015. Between then and 2019, the country spent $4 billion on rice import. The US Department of Agriculture said it expected Nigeria’s rice importation in 2020 to rise by 9 per cent to 2.4 million metric tons.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) since 2015 has spent N40 billion as loans to small holders to boost rice output, a move the Presidency said boosted production to 9.2 million metric tons by 2019, from 7.2 million in 2015.
Kudla said the ministry also distributed 40 bags of 25 kg Faro 44 rice seeds and two litres of glyphosate chemical each to the rice farmers across the three senatorial districts of the state. to enable them up their production capacities.
He noted that the training would go a long way to reduce poverty, increase food security, create jobs, and accelerate income generation and economic growth on a sustainable basis.
“The efforts to improve and increase rice production will invariably contribute to the attainment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s desire to ensure easy access to quality rice,” he said.
Peter Aikhuomobhogbe, programme manager of Edo Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) urged the beneficiaries to cash in on the training to enhance rice production in the state. He said the ministry had trained extension agents in the state to assist farmers on modern agricultural practices.
One of the participants and rice farmer from Illushi in Esan South-East Local Government Area of the State, Monday Nana, said the training and the rice seeds would help him and other farmers to improve on rice production in the state.