The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) assisted-Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) in Anambra state says it is targeting 791,000 tonnes of rice production during the current dry season farming.
The state Programme Coordinator, Nnamdi Aguncha, said this on Wednesday when the National Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation team of the programme inspected some rice and cassava farms in the state.
The team inspected rice farms at Owusi, Omasi, Omor, Ifite-Ogwari, Enugu-Abo, Ufuma and Umuekete-Aguleri, among other communities.
Aguncha said that rice farmers were mobilised to farm lands covering over 120 hectares across Orumba North, Ayamelum, Awka North, Anambra East and Anambra West Local Government Areas.
“VCDP decided to encourage rice farmers for dry season farming for the first time in line with Gov. Willie Obiano’s vision to double rice production in the state.
“We assisted the farmers with land preparation and development and trained them on best agronomic practices, especially on bonding and proper water management during dry season farming.
“Our expectations are that yields will increase from four tonnes to a minimum of six tonnes per hectare and the programme will continue to assist farmers with inputs,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Mohammed Lawal, the Leader of the National Monitoring Team, said that the visit was to encourage rice farmers toward cultivating rice at least twice a year.
“We have designed activities targeted toward assisting farmers to carry on agriculture as a business while they do it all-year-round through various interventions of the programme.
“We are leveraging on the Federal Government’s Anchor Borrowers Programme to reach out to more local governments in the area of capacity building,” he said.
Lawal advised rice farmers to commit themselves and be determined to achieve the Federal Government’s objective of more food on the table and money in their pockets.
Peter Emeka, Chairman of Owusi Rice Cluster, commended VCDP for its assistance and for making farming more attractive, especially to youths.
However, Emeka urged the state Ministry of Agriculture to monitor the rice seeds given to farmers to ensure their authenticity.
“We discovered after the growth of the nursery beds that we had uneven growth which shows that it was a mixed variety.”
The chairman expressed the hope that Nigeria could attain self-sufficiency in rice production by 2018, if government sustained its support to farmers through improved seeds and inputs.
The group also visited rice mills Udoka Rice Mills, Omor and Josan Mills and Farms Industries, Ufuma, where they expressed satisfaction with the facilities on ground. (NAN)