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300 rice farmers get N10m reward in Kogi

07 July 2013, 16:32

Lokoja - The Kogi Government on Sunday disbursed N10 million to 300 individuals and farmers' cooperative groups under its accelerated rice production project.

A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the beneficiaries were among the first batch of 1,500 farmers engaged by the government during the take off of the project on 15 December 2012.

The farmers participated in the cultivation of 3,000 hectares of rice farms in Galile, Sarki Noma and Okumi in the Lokoja Local Government Area and Koton-Karfe area of the state.

So far, more than 2 000 metric tones of paddy rice had been harvested.

Speaking on the occasion, Gov. Idris Wada, expressed delight that the accelerated rice production scheme had been a success, adding that the money disbursed to farmers was their own share from the sales.

He said that the payment of the money to the farmers was in fulfilment of the promise earlier made by the government that the proceeds would be shared at 60-40 per cent ration between the government and the farmers.

Wada, however, said that government had decided to buy back the harvested rice at the current market price from the farmers to ensure food security, saying that money realised from the sale would be re-invested in the project.

The governor thanked the Federal Government for providing N100 million, 60 water pumps, 350 bags of rice seeds and 750 bags of fertilisers at subsidised rates to support the project.

Wada appealed to the Federal Government to maintain the ban on rice importation in order to protect local rice, saying that the country had no reason to spend as much as one billion naira daily on rice importation.

The Project Consultant, Anselem Mohammed, said that those issued cheques had completed harvesting, promising that others would receive their money after harvest.

He identified the invasion of quela birds as a major problem confronting the project, saying that as much as 20 per cent of the total yield might be lost to the birds' invasion.

According to Mohammed, problems of theft of farm equipment and a lack of irrigation facilities have been brought to the notice of the government.

The Managing Director of the Kogi State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), Dr Ameh Onoja, said that the success had encouraged the ADP to extend the project to Ajaokuta, Omala, Idah, Bassa and Ibaji Local Government Areas, where hectares of land had been cleared and planted.

Onoja, however, identified lack of irrigation, attack by quela birds and inadequate capacity of farmers as major challenges confronting the project.

He suggested the training of farmers on dry season farming, design and construction of canals and channels, establishment of a farm management system and training of farmer on rice farming to overcome the challenges and make the project sustainable.

The Chairman of the Rice Harvesting Committee, Hajiya Bilikisu Onusagba, said that more than 1 300 bags of rice had so far been harvested from the rice farms, commending the government for being transparent and sincere in dealings with farmers.

She appealed to the government to sustain the sharing ration of 60-40 per cent to further encourage the farmers.

Onusagba urged the government to address insecurity on the farms and inadequate farming implements.



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