The Imo State Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has commenced the distribution of agricultural inputs worth millions of naira to rice farmers in the state.
The state Coordinator of the programme, Dr Edwin Uche, who distributed the inputs in Owerri on Wednesday, said the exercise was the peak of the three-month training for rice farmers.
Uche, who is also an Executive Assistant on Poverty Alleviation to Gov. Rochas Okorocha, said no fewer than
1,000 farmers would participate in the dry season rice cultivation.
He said that 2,800 farmers’ cooperative groups were trained in the first phase of the dry season rice cultivation while 1,000 farmers would benefit from the inputs.
The coordinator said the beneficiaries were drawn from five Local Government Areas of Okigwe, Ideato North, Oguta, Orlu and Nwangele.
“We registered and trained over 2,800 farmers for dry season rice cultivation; their inputs are ready, but because of some limitations on the part of the Bank of Agriculture, the figure was significantly reduced.
“The bank complained that it does not have enough manpower, vehicles, fund and other logistics to monitor the number of farmers earlier registered.”
Uche said that each of the beneficiaries would receive one water pumping machine, agro-chemicals, fertilisers, and 25 kg bag of paddy rice for planting.
He used the occasion to commend Gov. Okorocha for his commitment in ensuring that necessary arrangements were made to ensure the take-off of the programme.
The coordinator advised the beneficiaries not to be deterred by the late commencement of the programme.
“We have as well engaged competent experts to provide technical support to all farmers; if they can play by the rules, the sky will be their limit in this venture.’’
Uche said Okorocha’s target was for each farmer to record at least five tonnes of rice per hectare so that the state could join the league of states producing rice in commercial quantity in Nigeria.
One of the beneficiaries, Mr Simeon Ogbu, expressed gratitude to God for making it possible for him to scale through the hurdle of the training up to the point of collecting the inputs.
Ogbu appealed to the state government to ensure the sustenance of the programme and also extend it to more agricultural windows.
“If sustained, the programme is capable of turning around the living standard of Imo people,’’ he said.
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