BY EMEM IDIO
OPOTUWARI—RICE frmers in Bayelsa State are relishing the prospect of a bumper harvest this season following the distribution of thousands of bags of fertiliser and other inputs under the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Anchor Borrowers Programme, ABP.
The excited farmers, under the Bayelsa State chapter of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, RIFAN, who have already commenced preparation of 20,000 hectares of farmland for the dry season farming for the cultivation of commercial rice in Opotuwari and Ondewari communities in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, described the ABP as prompt and encouraging to the local farmers.
Receiving the farm inputs from the programme partners, CBN, Bank of Agriculture, BOA, and the Nigeria Agriculture Insurance Corporation, NAIC, during the formal flag-off of the distribution of the inputs, state chairman of rice farmers, Sir Ezekiel Ogbianko, thanked the Federal Government for the initiative, stressing that with the timely distribution of the inputs, the farmers were now looking forward to a successful farming season.
He said: “Out of 40,000 hectares of land that we have acquired, we are working on 20,000 hectares right now in Opotuwari and Ondewari communities in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area. Here, we have 120,000 bags of NPK fertiliser and more are still coming, we also have chemicals and other farm inputs. We have over 538 farmers that will be participating in this dry season farming.
“What we have is a kind of group or cooperative cultivation, it is not individual farming. The association has acquired massive land in all the eight local government areas for the sole purpose of rice farming.
“We still need more farmers to register with us, so that we can send them for training to empower them to manage these farms. Our aim is to flood the local markets with rice grown here in Bayelsa and export same beyond the shores of the state. We are sure of the positive impact this project will have on our local communities across the state, as jobs will be created massively to engage our youths.”
In his remarks, the representative of the CBN and Head of Development Finance, Yenagoa Branch, Mr. Oryeigha Stanley congratulated the rice farmers for scaling through the screening process and said the distributed inputs were for dry season rice farming. He added that more inputs would be distributed for the wet season farming.
“For this year 2018, we are going to run two planting seasons but hopefully, by next year, we are going to run three seasons. We want to solicit your support and also advise that the inputs be used specifically for the purpose,” he said.
In her remark, the Zonal Manager of Bank of Agriculture, Mrs. Kagho Adesuwa, said as farmers’ bank, the BOA was happy to collaborate with CBN and RIFAN to bring the programme to the local farmers. She expressed the hope that the farmers would reciprocate the gesture by using the dry season farming to showcase their rice produce to the world and demonstrate that rice farming is lucrative in Bayelsa State.