Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia has launched the 2019/2020 Abia Rice Farming Season – saying the state government has evolved strategies to enhance and sustain rice production in the state.
The Abia Rice Farming Season flagged off in Okpotom-Bende of Bende Local Government Council.
The governor, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs Uzoamaka Ikonne, said that increasing rice production would help to ensure food security in the state and the nation in general.
He urged rice farmers in the state to take advantage of state government’s programmes and policies to boost rice production.
“I charge the people of Abia not to depend on crude oil but see agriculture as the solution to unemployment challenges facing the nation.
“The present administration is passionate about agriculture, which is evident in its agricultural revolution through community-based oil palm development with planting of improved Tenera palm seedlings,” Ikpeazu said.
He assured rice farmers of the willingness of the present administration to improve agricultural production in the state.
Okechukwu Dike, the Co-ordinator of Abia Accelerated Rice Development Programme, said that Abia government had built a rice processing center in Uzuakoli as part of the efforts to boost rice production.
“The processing center has produced and sold about twenty thousand bags of Abia rice, called ‘Osikapa Abia’, between January and July.
“The plans on ground concerning rice production will fast track the eradication of the importation and consumption foreign rice in two years time.
“I call on the state government to rehablitate the rice dam feeding the Bende rice field for all year round cultivation and increased yield.”
Also, Mr Ndudim Ikeluo, the Secretary of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, commended Abia government for its efforts in promoting agriculture.
Ikeluo expressed the hope that Abia would become a major rice producer in the nation in no distant time.
Earlier, Chief Christopher Akobundu, the Secretary of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, thanked the state government for identifying with rice farmers.
Akobundu expressed the readiness of rice farmers “to do more” and contribute to the socio-economic development of the state.
Highlights of the event included the planting of rice seedlings and presentation of improved rice seedlings and farm inputs to rice farmers.