By Peter Duru
MAKURDI—Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has said the federal government would soon raise the tariff on rice importation to boost local production and encourage farmers of the crop in the country.
He made this known yesterday when he hosted officials of the Federal Government of Nigeria/International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, Value Chain Development Programme, VCDP, led by the Country Programme Manager of IFAD, Atsuko Toda, in Makurdi.
Ortom said when introduced, the new policy would not only rejuvenate local rice farming in the country but also go a long way to check sharp practices noticeable in rice importation and, by extension, help the government conserve more foreign exchange.
He said: “We will continue to partner IFAD to boost the local production of rice and cassava in the country and in doing that, we will also go fully into dry season farming because that is an area we enjoy comparative advantage over other states, we solicit your support in that regard.”
Earlier, the Country Programme Manager of IFAD, Atsuko Toda, stated that the organisation would key into the agricultural revolution of Ortom’s administration to boost food production in the country.
Toda said: “With the payment of your N87million counterpart fund, we are prepared to match that fund by four to five times per annum so that Benue farmers can enjoy improvement in their value chain.
“We are targeting 15,000 farmer households in four local government areas of the state, which include Guma, Gwer, Okpokwu and Logo and in so doing, we will ensure improved farming inputs and also link producers to markets.
“Benue farmers and, indeed, the entire state stand to benefit immensely from the programme, all we need is the cooperation of all stakeholders to ensure better earnings for our farmers.”