Harvesting begins at FG-assisted rice farms in Akwa Ibom
By Ofonime Honesty
Harvesting has begun in rice farms cultivated in several parts of Akwa Ibom State under the Federal Government assisted rice programme.
The programme run by the Federal Government in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) is in its first phase in the state.
Having the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang as anchor person in Akwa Ibom, the programme’s main aim is to enhance food sufficiency by offering multimillion Naira loans to farmers through the CBN and NIRSAL.
Leading a delegation from CBN and NIRSAL to one of the rice farms at Ikot Essen community in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area on Monday, Senator Ita Enang applauded the benefiting farmers for making judicious use of the loans offered them to boost their business.
He said the federal government remains committed to enhancing food sufficiency in the country.
The senior presidential aide also noted that the programme has helped the federal government and private importers save cost which hitherto went into importation of edible commodities like rice.
He furthered explained that the programme has helped correct the impression that Akwa Ibom does not cultivate rice: “What we have done here is to ensure that rice is available in Akwa Ibom State, the farms are available, the farmers are available in Akwa Ibom State and Niger Delta, the rice and even the processors are also available, only that we don’t have enough of this rice planted, some people go to now have to go to Jigawa, Nasarrawa and Cross River State to buy to come and process here. There is nothing we are lacking here except support, and this is the support that the CBN and NIRSAL have come in to provide through our office and we ate bringing in the NDDC into the field.”
Reacting on behalf of CBN, Dr. Aniefiok Akpan Umoren, who is the Head of Development and Finance, CBN Calabar also stressed that the project has helped in changing the impression that the state does not produce rice.
He urged the farmers to continue making good use of the opportunity availed them.
Speaking on behalf of the benefiting farmers, Hon. Emmanuel Bassey who is the Coordinator of the Farmers Forum in the state, thanked the Federal government, CBN, NIRSAL and Senator Ita Enang for the initiative.
Bassey said the current batch of beneficiaries are about 50 spread across the state.
The delegation also visited another rice farm under the scheme, located at Ikot Akpan Abasi Ididep in Ibiono Ibom.