Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
Blessed with favourable weather and agrarian land, Ekiti State is home to many agricultural produce including rice, cocoa, oil palm, kolanut, plantain, banana, cashew, water melon, citrus, timber, yam, cassava, cocoyam, maize and cowpea. Its identified comparative advantage is in the production of “Igbemo rice” produced in Igbemo-Ekiti, Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government. Other communities are also involved in rice production but with limited capacity.
The New Initiative for Social Development (NISD), has come on board to boost the capacity of local rice farmers. It entered into a pact with the Embassy of Japan in Nigeria to provide Ekiti farmers with modern equipment to boost rice production.
Mr Martins Ogunlade, Program Manager, NISD, promised transparency in the disbursement of the funds. He said reports on the progress of the project would be forwarded to the Japanese Government to ensure effective monitoring:
“The report will outline achieved results in the light of the original goals and objectives as stated in the application proposal for the project. The contract will be completed one year after the contract date. The project is a boost to food security not only in Ekiti State but also in Nigeria.
“The provision of the facilities will boost the capacity of rice farmers in the targeted area. It will also ensure that the staple food is made available in commercial quantities.”
Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Folorunso Olabode, said: “Ekiti needs more support from development partners to boost food security and create more job opportunities for its people. Every equipment given to Ekiti State will be judiciously used and we assure on their maintenance and sustainability.”
The Special Assistant to the Governor on Civil Society Matters, Mr Biodun Oyeleye, said:
“The support given to NISD is to assist government in achieving the five-pillar development agenda under agriculture and civil society and has contributed to the government achieving this development. It is a very great opportunity given to us by Japan for the civil society to contribute towards achieving the five-pillar agenda. We are looking forward to such partnerships, this should not be a one-off.”
A rice farmer in Imesi-Ekiti, Femi Alowonle, said: “We are very lucky in Gbonyin Local Government because this is one of the major rice belts in Ekiti. Provision of tillers and harvesters will make our jobs easier.
“This modern equipment will assist us to produce more. Besides, it will attract more young men and women into rice production. Our young generation does not want to work with bare hands again.”
Another farmer in Egbe-Ekiti, also in Gbonyin LG, Ola Ogunmodede, said: “We rice farmers have formed ourselves into cooperatives to be able to access loans and inputs.
“The provision of modern farming methods by the Japanese will help us realise our dreams. The rehabilitation of Egbe Dam by government, which will soon be completed is also a major boost for rice production.”
A member of the state Rice Growers Association, Bode Lucas, wanted the gesture extended to rice farmers in other parts of the state: “We we have rice farmers in virtually all the local government areas in the state.