ARMTI chiefs seeks incentives for youths in farming
THE Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has lauded Nigeria’s efforts to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production by 2015.
FAO projected that the increased rice output in Nigeria and Ghana, global rice production for 2012 would outpace consumption in 2012/13, resulting in an upward revision of five million tonnes in 2013 closing inventories.
FAO, in its recent report, said: “Compared to last year, world rice carryover stocks are expected to rise by seven per cent, or 10 million tonnes, to a new high of almost 170 tonnes, marking the eighth consecutive year of stock accumulation. As a result, the world rice stock-to-use ratio is forecast to rise from 33.6 per cent in 2012 to 35.5 per cent in 2013.”
A significant achievement of the Rice Transformation Agenda is the creation of awareness of the investment opportunities in the rice sub-sector. Large rice farms are springing nationwide with many having their own mills and clusters of outgrowers. Today, we have 14 integrated mills operating fully by the private sector. Another 11 large mills are under installation or rehabilitation and are expected to come under full operation by March 2013.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), Ilorin Mr Samuel Afolayan has canvassed more incentives to Nigerian youths to encourage them to adopt farming as a profession.
Afolayan, who expressed fears over the ageing population of Nigerian farmers, said soft loans should be given to the youth to farm.
He spoke yesterday in Ilorin at the grand finale of a 10-day special training on the use of sweet potato organised by the ARMTI in collaboration with the Hellen Keller Institute (HKI) and Centro Internacional De la Papa (CIP) both in Kenya.
Also, the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has assured Nigerians that the ministry would not rest on its oars until its taget for self-sufficiency in rice production is achieved.
To this end, the ministry has rolled out a special intervention programme on dry season paddy production plan that will concentrate on 10 states of the federation namely, Kebbi, Zamfara, Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto, Katsina, Bauchi, Gombe and Kogi. Criteria for choosing these states include existing culture of dry season rice paddy production, availability of water either from irrigation project or bore holes/wash bowls, and strong state government support for the programme. 159, 860 farmers have enrolled into the programme and will plan 16, 731 mt of high quality seed on 334, 204 hectares of land, to be supported with 33, 420 mt of fertiliser.
Fertiliser will be available at designated Agro-Dealers in each local council area. Registered farmers will receive two bags of fertiliser (one bag NPK and one bag Urea) at 50 per cent subsidy. The farmer is free to buy the remaining quantity of fertiliser to make up for optimum fertiliser recommendation per hectare at market prices from the agro-dealers.
A special arrangement has been made for agro-dealers who handle fertilisers to also be the redemption centres for seeds. Each farmer will be entitled to 50 kg of seeds of improved rice varieties – FAROs 44 and 52 – enough to plant one hectare of land. The seeds will be provided free of charge while there will be enough seeds at cost price for farmers who intend to plant over one hectare of land.
To abate possible water shortages at the peak of dry season, each state will be assisted with 250 water pumps and accessories. Two thousand water pumps are being deployed for this excercise. To keep the paddy clean during threshing provision will be made for farmers to have access to five square metres of tarpaulin. A service provider will be attached to each state to supply the material at a discount.
Afolayan believes that agricultural sector in Nigeria when fully developed can serve as a veritable avenue for reducing unemployment and social vices.
He thanked the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for its concern during a recent rainstorm that wreaked havoc to buildings and facilities at the ARMTI.
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