Thumbs up for FG, IFAD, Niger govt agric initiative
By Ummi Ismaeel,
The tripartite arrangement between International Fund for Agricultural Development, (IFAD), Federal Government and the Niger State government to develop and expand capacities for rice and cassava production in the state has started yielding desired results.
The partnership between the trio signed in 2012 but became effective in 2013 with a draw down period from 2015 terminates in six years period (2020).
The programme has a total grant package of $74.5 million.
It was aimed at improving the quality of life and the standard of living of the poor rural communities, which are into rice and cassava production, processing, packaging/ and/or branding and marketing for their self-sustenance.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development is a donor support finance initiative under the auspices of the United Nations with the partners contributing funds into a common basket to fund agricultural productivity for the enhancement of value chain development in food and cash crops production, processing and marketing.
In Niger State, the initiative is aimed at improving the livelihood of the poor, rural communities who are engaged in the production of quality cassava and rice which can compete favourably with imported ones.
Since the take-off of the joint sponsorship initiative between the trio where Niger state first made its counterpart contribution of N60 million in 2014 - 2015 dry farming cropping season, rice farmers from the five participating council areas of Bida, Katcha, Kontagora, Shiroro and Wushishi have scaled up their production outputs from two tonnes of rice per hectre to five tonnes per hectre.
For the year 2016 and 2017 dry farming cropping season, the state government has approved the sum of N87 million as its counterpart funds for the sustenance of the programme.
The IFAD Coordinator in Niger State, Ameh Onoja, said that under the initiative, participating farmers were expected to produce quality, stone-free rice and increased their farm yields with the improved seedlings.
Expressing the optimism that with current yields per hectre the rice farmers were expecting bumper harvest of seven tonnes per hectre, Onoja said that already Kanko rice cluster farmers were producing fine quality, stone-free rice that could compete with any imported rice.
While commending the commitment of the Niger State government for living up to expectations, Onoja urged the state government to promptly release the 2016 -2017 counterpart funds to actualize the projection of attaining the expected high yields and betterment of the living conditions of the rural farmers.
He said that with the current tempo and zeal, Niger State was indeed poised to lead the rest of the rice farming states in the country.
He said that rice farmers from the state were expected to make a combined haul of over 25 metric tonnes of quality rice from both dry and wet season farming.