The Federal Government on Thursday in Abuja distributed 500 units of threshers and 100 units of power tillers to rice producing farmers in 12 states. Speaking at the ceremony, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh listed the benefiting states as Ebonyi, Niger, Taraba, Kaduna, Enugu, Kebbi, Katsina, Oyo, Anambra, Kano, Jigawa and Bayelsa.
Ogbeh said in the next two years, government would facilitate another 5,000 machines for farmers across the country. The minister said 95 per cent of the expected machines would be fabricated locally as the country now has excellent fabricators and engineers.
He announced a ban on the importation of threshers into the country, saying that experts in the country would be supported to produce them locally. “I want to ask Nigerians to continue to support our efforts in agriculture because we are in a very serious crisis with food; this country cannot continue to import food.
“These machines are to support our farmers; a lot of them are getting old; if we do not support them, the days are coming when we can no longer buy rice and we cannot grow rice. “We need seven million tonnes of rice annually, and in 34 years time, this country will feed five per cent of the entire humanity; we want to mechanise to make life easy for farmers and to get the youth involved in agric,’’ he said.
In his remarks, the Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, Hon. Mohammed Monguno, said that the implements would boost local rice production as well as fast track the end of rice importation. He said the National Assembly would collaborate with the Executive arm of government to ensure increased funding for the agric sector.
The lawmaker said that legislators were working on a bill that would ensure farmers have access to finance at single digit interest rate. Speaking on behalf of the benefiting states, Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ebonyi State, Mr Udenna Orji, applauded the Federal Government for the initiative.
Orji said the government at the centre had demonstrated genuine leadership qualities in diversifying the economy, saying that the states will queue into vision to attain national success. He pledged that the states would effectively utilise the implements to engage youth in rural areas in agriculture for the overall development of agriculture.