Ebonyi, Kebbi top in rice production in Nigeria - Ajani

By Victor Nwegede

As Nigeria becomes the best in the production of rice in Africa continent, Ebonyi and Kebbi have emerged the top leading states in the country in the same farming system.

This was disclosed, Wednesday, by Prof. Emmanuel K. Ajani, the Principal investigator on fish-rice integrated farm, University of Ibadan during the Ebonyi State stakeholders workshop and establishment of innovation platform for fish and farmers groups in Sandiego hotel, Abakaliki town.

Ajani said, the programme becomes necessary since Nigeria as a country is presently the number one producer of rice in the whole of Africa, and added that, all efforts have been put in place to boost the tempo through sensitization of the farmers on how to diversify strategy through integrated agriculture-aquaculture system and nutrition value chains for better nutrition outcomes.

His words: "In rice production, Nigeria is the best in the whole of Africa. And in this country, Kebbi and Ebonyi states lead in rice production. In terms of producing rice, I think we have the potentials in this country to be among the first three producing countries in the world. That is the essence of this project for integrated rice and fish farming."

According to him, the project is championed by United States Agency International Development, USAID, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, FAO, University of Georgia, University of Ibadan, other international and local partners to boost rice and fish production.

"Today we are going to establish what is called innovation platform. This innovation platform will involve the stakeholders in rice farming, fish farming, and some people as the marketers among the value chains.

"The stakeholders will help to pilot the team together. In project site, they will contribute towards advancing the programme so that at the end of the day, when the funding is no longer, they will be experts on them. You people will be able to manage the project. The project will continue in the community. That's why we are here.

"Secondly, we want to hear from the stakeholders, about this project we are bringing. Like when we were in Kebbi State, they told us that World Bank has brought this project to them in the years past in one community, Arugwungu, but the project failed due to one problem or the other. 

"So, what am saying is that we want to learn certain things from you. We shall achieve our modus operandi through presentations and interactions.Through our expertises, you learn more and contribute a faster way to make this project a reality in Ebonyi State. One thing, I have learnt is that Ebonyi State is the land of God, and anything put in the hands of God, can never fail", he added.

Flagging off the programme, the State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Development, Chief Moses  Ogodo-Ali Nomeh, commended Prof. Ajani and his team, for having performed excellently well in his first assignment given to them.

"I want to associate myself with this team, they were with me in my office. I think they are very serious minded people. They have finished the first assignment I gave to them, that the programme should be all inclusive. That every section of Ebonyi State should participate in the programme. And as the introduction was made, the thirteen local government areas were identified present here. 

"This is not politics, I want to stress that it is not only for PDP or other party affairs. It is farming and the business should be on how to get a greater advancement and productivity. Farming involves life, everyman eats and enjoys fish. Eventually, everyman in the whole world eats rice. We are talking today in Ebonyi State, that farming should be a serious business", he said.

The Commissioner advised the participants of the programme to take farming as a serious business, saying, those who were not committed into the state government's plan to promote agricultural practices might not be allowed to take part in its first phase.

"For those of you who are coming here to hear what is said, without following the rudiments, you have just come to waste your time. I am happy that some people say, we are prosperous farmers. We need to see the level of your seriousness, your portion of land, your business farming. 

"We are fighting against those who are cultivating one plot of land and come to our office and get loan to marry their second wives. Some people are looking for money to buy a big suit. 

"One of the things, I want to join is that, there must be a group and cluster farming in this programme. We want to change the idea of those who think, one man can be everything. Jack of all trades is a master of nothing. You need money to do well in agriculture, because, its practice requires alot of money, but if you don't see it as a business, you will live from hand to mouth. Before, we recognize you as a farmer, you must have at least two hectares of land", the Commissioner hinted. 

He also promised to partner with the team and Ebonyi people who are ready to imbibe the culture of farming, urging all and sundries to develop passion to sustain the agriculture programme going on in the state.

Meanwhile, the Programme Manager, Ebonyi State Agricultural Development Programme, Chima N. Okoro and Dr. JohnPaul Ikwuemesi commended the team alongside the state government and expressed optimism that the participants would utilize the opportunity to   introduce a better model while advancing agriculture practices in the state and Nigeria at large.

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