Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Ekiti State Chapter of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN)Â has distributed farm inputs worth over N80 million as loans to no fewer than 174 rice farmers in the state under the Anchor Borrowersâ€™ Programme (ABP).
The State Coordinator of the Rice farmers Association, Mr. Rotimi KolawoleÂ who made this known in Ado Ekiti, said that the beneficiaries currently are cultivating 400 hectares of rice farms, adding that the farmers were expected to harvest a yield of over 1600 tonnes this season.
Kolawole expressed gratitude to the state government for its supportÂ for the thriving rice cultivation being witnessed in the State, saying thatÂ it was exceedingly praiseworthy that on numerous occasions, the DeputyÂ Governor, Professor Kolapo Olusola led several other relevant publicÂ officers on solidarity visits to the farms.
According to him, the second phase of the programme would commence immediately, adding that interested farmers could obtain expression of interest forms at any of the offices of the State Agricultural DevelopmentÂ Programme (ADP) in their locality.
In his remarks, the State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Kehinde Odebunmi charged the benefiting farmers to use the farm inputs judiciously, stressing that they must be conscious of theirÂ loans repayment plans and avoid unnecessary complication that may arise dueÂ to negligence.
The Commissioner said 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 continually provide technicalÂ and extension services to the farmers towards achieving maximum yieldÂ possible and to also prevent misuse of inputs.
He noted that agriculture remained a veritable option to productivelyÂ engage youths and consequently reduce the challenge of unemployment addingÂ that the programme would encourage youthsâ€™ participation in commercial agriculture.
Inputs distributed to the farmers included Napsak sprayers, rice seeds, surface water pump and accessories as well as herbicides and fertilisers.