Ebonyi Boosts Food Production

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The Ebonyi Government has paid over N16.8 million as counterpart fund for the implementation of Root and Tuber Expansion Programme (RTEP) of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in the state.

Chief Romanus Nwasum, Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, disclosed this on Sunday in Abakaliki, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the occasion of this year’s World Food Day celebration.

Nwasum added that six cassava processing groups in the state were also given a grant of N2.1 million each while eight out-grower groups equally received over N800,000 each.

“Thirty-nine cooperative societies were given N3.9 million to inaugurate 39 hectares of improved cassava farms across the state.

“The state government had also paid N56.4 million as its counterpart fund for FADAMA 3 project, with funds appropriately disbursed to benefiting user groups and community Associations,” he said.

Nwasum also told NAN that about 250 veterinary assistants and technicians were trained by the state veterinary office at Ezzamgbo, in collaboration with some donour agencies such as USAID, among others.

“This form of training was also extended to the state’s monitoring and evaluation officers as well as extension workers.

“All these programmes and projects are aimed at achieving food security, alleviate poverty, reduce hunger, ensure sustainable development and employment creation,” he said.

The commissioner revealed that the state government had procured and distributed over 220 and 8,000 metric tonnes of improved rice seeds and various brands of fertiliser for distribution to farmers.

“The fertiliser was distributed at highly subsidised rates, while various brands of agro chemicals were distributed to them to enhance crop yield.

“Twenty-two new tractors were procured to beef up the existing fleet for increased services to farmers while 200 new extension agents were recruited,” he added.

He said that government had entered into agreement with two companies – SATAKE Europe and James JS Construction Limited, to establish modern rice mills at Ikwo (Central), Iboko (North), Osso-Edda (South), representing the three senatorial zones of the state, at a cost of N3 billion.

The commissioner promised that the mills when operational, would process high quality rice of international standard, adding that installation of the imported equipment for the mills was in progress while actual rice processing would commence in early 2012.

Nwasum said that the state government identified with the theme of this year’s celebration entitled, “Food prices-from crisis to stability” because of its belief that it would create awareness against hunger and poverty.

“It has also demonstrated unparalleled commitment towards achieving food security in the state, in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on food security and sustainable development, leading to price stability,” he said.