The Rivers State Ministry of Agriculture has bemoaned the poor responses to agricultural development programmes for grain farmers in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Caroline Wali lamented the alienation of the state in the Federal Government’s food security programmes.
According to her, the Federal Government has constructed 30 silos and handed them over to agents who are to act as off-takers to grain farmers.
She, however, lamented that the move should have been extended to Rivers state.
This, she added, was because enough farmers in the state had shown readiness to enter into full-time grain production, albeit bedeviled by challenges such as lack of rice mills and silos.
In a related development, maize farmers under the aegis of the South-South zonal chapter of the Maize Association of Nigeria (MAN) have decried the level to which state silos have remained inactive.
Zonal Coordinator of MAN, Mr. Amadi Godwin, noted this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). According to him, the state of these state-owned silos was as a result of lack of maintenance.
He noted that silos at Rumuodomanya and Elele in Obi/Akpor and Ikwerre Local Government Areas respectively, had remained inactive.
Godwin also added that bureaucracy on the part of the Ministry of Agriculture, as well as political interests, played a part in the current state of the silos.
He said, “This has not in any way encouraged effective utilisation of the facility. The MAN had written several letters calling for reactivation of these state-owned silos, but to date, nothing has been done.
“There are no Federal Government-owned silos here in Rivers, but we have been benefiting from the Federal Government’s Anchor Borrowers Programme.
“During the COVID-19 lockdown, our association took delivery of appreciable tonnes of agro-inputs, ranging from improved seeds to other agro-based chemicals.”
The Zonal Coordinator, however, called for better measures to ensure productivity on the part of the farmers.
“A major problem in Nigeria is that the government has refused to support each of the states, specifically in their areas of major interests and profitability.
“For instance, Rivers and Delta states are hubs for cassava, maize, yam, plantain, banana and cucumber. As such, farmers should be given adequate incentives for better productivity on these specific crops.