By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Lagos State Government has empowered no fewer than 800 rice farmers in the state with preferred high-yielding Farrow 44 seeds, brand new high-quality knapsack sprayers, rain boots and farm coats.
The state Acting Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, who gave out the empowerment tools on Tuesday, at the beginning of a three-day capacity building and training of the rice farmers on current production practices in the rice value chain, explained that the strategic intervention by the state government was informed by the need to boost the farming activities of rice farmers in the state.
She stressed that the empowerment of the rice farmers was also geared towards ensuring the sustainable supply of paddy by the rice farmers, particularly 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,” Olusanya stated.
She explained that the capacity building and training was expected to give all participating farmers the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in modern and improved rice farming techniques.
Olusanya added: “Due to the fact that the state has 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 sustainable supply of paddy by Lagos rice farmers towards the Imota Rice Mill project.”
She noted that the 32 metric tonne per hour rice mill at Imota was nearing completion, stressing that at full capacity, it would produce 115,200mt of milled rice which would require about 280,000mt 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 of the residents of the state and the Federal Government’s current ban on importation of rice.
She stated that the training would take place in 20 locations cut across Ikorodu, Epe, Badagry, Gboyinbo, Idena, Obada, Ito Ikin, and Ise adding that they would be trained 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.
He noted that the training and capacity building would go a long way in providing the needed paddy for rice production for the nearly-completed Imota Rice Mill, while simultaneously improving the economic status of rice farmers in the state.