The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, on Friday, in Ibadan, distributed certified rice seeds to smallholder farmers in the South-West region.
Those who benefited from the distribution exercise included clusters of smallholder rice farmers from Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, as well as Ondo and Oyo states.
Speaking during the exercise, the Director of Agriculture in the ministry, Mr Abdullahi Abubakar, said it was meant to support farmers’ associations and cooperatives in the region.
Represented by Mr. Dauda Ayeleke, the Head of Rice Value Chain Unit, Abubakar urged the beneficiaries to make good use of the seeds.
”Endeavour to make judicious use of the inputs in order to increase rice production and enhance the well-being of the people.”
He said it was important for Nigeria to increase its rice production level and quality in the interest of food sufficiency.
”The target of the Federal Government is to give farmers access to good quality and high-yielding rice varieties during the 2023 cropping season.
”This will help the farmers to recover from losses. It will also improve production and trigger reduction in the cost of rice,” Abubakar said.
Some of the beneficiaries commended the Federal Government for the gesture, describing it as “timely and thoughtful”.
Mr Raphael Hunsa, the Chairman of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria in Lagos State, said the gesture would have a positive impact on the country.
He urged the Federal Government to sustain the gesture in the interest of the country’s policy on local rice production and food sufficiency.
“I also urge the Federal Government to consider supporting farmers with fertilisers and other chemicals which will boost output.”
Speaking at the event, Alhaji Kamorudeen Sokunbi, a rice farmer from Ogun, urged the government to bring up programmes that would promote mechanised rice farming.
”The government has done well by distributing these seeds. We, however, urge the government to also provide for us tractors and planters,” he said.