Benjamin Nworie in Abakaliki
The Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh has described Ebonyi farmers as the real heroes of President Muhammadu Buhari’s push to diversify the nation’s economy, especially through agriculture in rice production.
The minister also promised that the federal government would rehabilitate the Ettem Amagu Ikwo Dam to encourage dry season rice cultivation in the state.
He explained that under Operation 1,037 of the federal government, a minimum of 10 dams per state and the FCT would be built.
Ogbeh, who was in accompanied by the Chairman, Presidential Committee on Rice production, Abubakar Bagudu and Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele, commended Umahi for his agricultural policy, particularly in ensuring massive rice production in the state.
The minister called on youths to key into agriculture to diversify the economy and see it as a way out of the present economic recession in the country. He promised to bring agricultural equipment like rice harvesters, threshers, par- boiling drums to Ebonyi State.
“Next year, we shall plant for you 1,500 hectares of cashew nuts; five hundred hectares per the three senatorial districts in your state. We shall also build you two factories here for roasting cashew. Next year, we shall plant for you 1,500 hectares of cashew nuts. “By the middle of last week, I had some machines ready for you (Ebonyi State).
These include threshers and even new par-boiling drums which operate differently from what women are using. When those machines come, youngmen will be thought how to enter a farm and harvest rice for farmers. These young men and farmers will make so much money to the extent that they will become millionaires in the villages. So wealth is here (in farming)”, Ogbeh said.
He also promised that the federal government would rehabilitate the Ettem Amagu Ikwo Dam to encourage dry season rice cultivation in the state, even as he explained that under Operation 1,037 of the federal government, a minimum of 10 dams per state and the FCT would be built.
The Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Rice production and governor of Kebbi State, Bagudu, said what he saw in rice producing states showed that the country had achieved self sufficiency in rice production and should therefore commence plan for rice export. “Success recorded in the last one year is phenomenal. What we have seen, in terms of rice output seems to suggest that the goal of self sufficiency which we hitherto thought will be achieved in 2017, might have already been achieved,” he stated.
Emefiele, in his remark explained that the apex bank’s Anchor Borrowers Programme would commence next year to boost farming and tackle challenges confronting farmers.
Emefiele also pledged the bank’s readiness to participate in the clearing and re-dredging of the Ettem Amagu Dam.
Governor Umahi had while welcoming them in the state, commended President Buhari for reviving agriculture in the country.
He expressed the readiness of the state government to partner the federal government in all season farming. He said, “There are over 30 dams in this state. They are recharged by very near streams. So we want assistance from the Federal Government in the area of irrigation.
We want assistance in the area of money to the farmers. We want assistance in the area of biomass plants. The cost of buying diesel and maintenance is too high; we also need harvesters to assist our farmers.”
The team also visited the state’s modern rice mills in Oso-Edda and Ikwo where they saw live processed rice rolling out of the machines.