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FG to stake N100 million in Kogi State rice production

By The Citizen
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The federal government has said that it was supporting the Kogi state government rice initiative with N100 million to sustain its land clearing activities.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina who disclosed this during a courtesy call to the state governor, said that the financial support would also assist selected micro finance bank to boost lending to farmers in the state, emphasizing that 30 per cent of the fund should go to women farmers.

He also approved an immediate supply of 1, 000 (50Kg) bags of rice seeds and 6, 000 bags of fertiliser to the state.

Commending the state government for its giant stride in the agricultural sector, he said that Kogi State alone could feed the nation if its abundant agricultural lands were optimally utilized.

According to the minister, Nigeria with a total arable land area of 84 million hectares, of which only 40 per cent is cultivated, had no reason to be a net importer of food.

The minister applauded the state's initiative that encouraged local government to clear 50 hectares of land.

He appealed to other states to borrow a leaf from this initiative and said that if all states of the federation could make such efforts, it would help the country achieved food security.

Adesina affirmed that Nigeria, with Kogi's progress in agriculture, was well on course with its policy to become self-sufficient in rice production by 2015. He added that in the past one year 14 new private sectors integrated rice mills had come on stream and with a total capacity of 240,000 MT.

He disclosed that plans had reached advanced stage for the importation of 100 large-scale integrated rice mills, which would make Nigeria be self-sufficient in the processing of rice at industrial scale. These mills, he stressed would be owned and operated by the private sector and would be supported through financing from the China EXIM Bank.

The minister disclosed that four of these rice mills would be located in Kogi State.

The goal of Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) according to the minister was to add 20 million MT of food to the domestic food supply and create 3.5 million jobs by 2015.

'To achieve this we now treat agriculture as a business, to generate wealth. If each state of the federation takes agriculture as a business and invests heavily in agriculture, we will unleash the economic revival of all our rural areas, feed ourselves, put our youths to work and become food self-sufficient. Nigeria must produce what it eats, eat what it produces, and if it is not produced in Nigeria, it is not good enough for Nigerians.'

Briefing the minister on the progress made in the state under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), the Executive Governor, Captain Idris Wada said that Kogi State had focused on two major components of the ATA, which the state had comparative advantage on, which are, Accelerated Rice Production Programme and Cassava Value Chain Production Programme.

As part of the drive to boost rice production, the governor disclosed that the state was establishing rice farms around Koto, Okumi, Galele and Sarki Numa Irrigation Project sites.

Wada added that the state was fully prepared for the rice revolution and had embarked on the clearing of 6,750 hectares of land out of which 3, 000 hectares has already been cleared and 80 per cent of it had been cultivated.

The programme, according to him had provided employment for over 3000 youths and women in the state.

The governor expressed appreciation to the federal government for its encouragement and support to the state's agricultural initiatives.