The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said this while addressing farmers at Ndeagu-Echara and Omege-Echara in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi on Friday.
“The country is currently importing $6m worth of rice daily and the funds to sustain such importation are no longer obtainable,” Ogbeh, who spoke through his Senior Adviser on International Donor Partners, said.
To reverse the trend, Ogbeh said that government was giving priority to rice production.
He promised that the government would support farmers in the country to embark on all-year farming.
“The Federal Government would support you through the provision of inputs, access to financing among other interventions, to achieve improved yields from your crops,” he said.
“You will also be supported to embark on all-year farming through the provision of irrigation facilities that would enhance crop yield.”
Ogbeh called on the farmers to start viewing agriculture as a lucrative business venture.
The minister’s comments came when officials of the International Fund for Agriculture-Value Chain Development Programme visited some rice-processing clusters in the state.
The National Coordinator, IFAD—VCDP, Dr. Ameh Onoja, expressed satisfaction with the rice production efforts of the farmers in the state and pledged the organisation’s continued assistance.
He said, “We evaluated the total crop areas and yield performance and pray that the rains extend to the latter part of the year for a bumper harvest.
“We also commend the Ebonyi government for practical demonstrating its commitment towards improved rice production, to make the state the highest rice producer in the country.
“The government has sustained its counterpart fund payment and demonstrated its political will through mechanisation of farm practices to assist farmers.”