Food sufficiency in the Nigerian rice value chain is significant to move ahead in the Food Security journey.
The Ekiti Chapter of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) says it has distributed farm inputs worth over N80 million as loans to 174 rice farmers in the state under the CBN Farmers Anchor Borrowers programme.
Mr. Rotimi Kolawole, state coordinator of the association, said this on Thursday in Ado-Ekiti during a news conference.
Kolawole, who said that the beneficiaries were currently cultivating 400 hectares of rice farms across the state, added that the farmers were expected to harvest over 1,600 tonnes this current farming season.
Expressing gratitude to the state government for its support, the coordinator attributed the thriving rice cultivation being witnessed in the state to availability of the loan facility.
According to him, the second phase of the programme will commence immediately.
He added that interested farmers could still obtain expression of interest forms at any of the offices of the state Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) in their locality.
In his remarks, Mr. Kehinde Odebunmi, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, charged the benefiting farmers to use the farm inputs judiciously.
He stressed that they must be conscious of their loans repayment plans and avoid unnecessary complication that might arise due to negligence.
The commissioner said that the state government would continue to support farming, adding that the focus was to guarantee food security and productively engage youths in the state.
Odebunmi assured that government would also continue to provide technical and extension services to the farmers towards achieving maximum yield possible and to also prevent misuse of inputs.
He noted that agriculture remained a veritable option to productively engage youths and consequently reduce the challenge of unemployment.
He added that the programme would encourage youths’ participation in commercial agriculture.
Inputs distributed to the farmers included sprayers, seeds, surface water pumps and accessories as well as herbicides and fertilizers, among others.