Lagos State Government today empowered no fewer than 800 rice farmers with preferred high yielding farrow 44 seeds, brand new high-quality knapsack sprayers, rain boots and farm coats.
The Acting Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, who gave out the empowerment tools before the commencement of a three-day capacity building and training of the rice farmers on current production practices in the rice value chain, explained that this strategic intervention by the State Government was informed by the need to boost the farming activities of its rice farmers.
She pointed out that empowerment of the rice farmers was also geared towards ensuring the sustainable supply of paddy, bearing in mind the imminent completion of the State-owned Imota Rice Mill project.
“It is expected that if these farming techniques are adopted by the farmers in the next planting season, it will result in an increase in paddy production in the State to an expected average yield of four tonnes per hour”, the Acting Commissioner averred.
Olusanya explained that the capacity building and training were expected to give all participating farmers the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in modern and improved rice farming techniques, adding that the exercise would also expose the farmers to efficient harvesting methods using the most up-to-date agricultural practices to ensure maximum output, improve yield as well as derive maximum return on investment.
In her words, “Due to the fact that the State has a limited agricultural cultivable land area and with the increasing rate of small and large scale Rice Mills across the nation, there is a strain on the State getting a constant supply of paddy to feed the mill when it becomes fully operational”.
“It is to this end that the Ministry has embarked on the sensitisation of Rice farmers to train and disseminate the current production practices and empowerment geared towards the sustainable supply of paddy by Lagos Rice farmers towards the Imota Rice Mill project”, Olusanya stated.
She noted that the 32 metric tonnes per hour Rice Mill at Imota was nearing completion, stressing that at full capacity, it would produce 115,200Metric Tonnes of milled rice, which would require about 280,000 Metric Tonnes of paddy per year; hence the need to stock enough paddy to ensure a smooth take-off of the Mill.
According to her, the training was necessary in order to bridge the rice demand deficit for the residents of the State due to the Federal Government’s current ban on importation of rice in the country.
She averred that the training would take place in 20 locations cut across Ikorodu, Epe, Badagry, Gboyinbo, Idena, Obada, Ito Ikin, and Ise, adding that training will be undertaken on global best practices and the most effective ways to grow their rice.
Responding, the National Deputy President, Rice Farmers’ Association of Nigeria, Mr. Segun Atho appreciated the State Government for the training initiative, especially for its members.
He noted that the training and capacity building would enhance knowledge on providing paddy for rice production at the nearly-completed Imota Rice Mill, while simultaneously improving the economic status of rice farmers in the State.