From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Benue State Government has flagged off the distribution of improved seedlings to farmers in the state as a way of promoting commercial agriculture.
Governor Samuel Ortom while flagging off the distribution at the Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, on Thursday, harped on the need for the state to engage in aggressive farming to enhance food security and add value to agricultural production for export earning.
While explaining that recent research carried out has shown that the state is rich in the cultivation of watermelon which is consumed globally, the governor enjoined the people to take advantage and explore that potential to their advantage.
He listed seedlings for distribution to the Benue farmers to include 4,666 improved rice seedlings, 230 bags of maize, 690 watermelon and 10,000 improved cassava stems.
The governor urged all local government chairmen to encourage their people to cultivate watermelon and cassava which he noted, are in high demand across the country and beyond.
‘We have two (2) Chinese firms that have set up Ethanol Plants. One is located close to Abinsi and another in Zaki-Biam in Ukum local government area. One of the company requires over 300 metric tonnes of cassava. Soon cassava will be in high demand and will be mopped up by these companies.
“By next week, the government will flag off fertilizer sales. It is expected that communities will pay 50 per cent for Urea while NPK will attract a 60 per cent subsidy. I urge Benue people to make judicious use of improved seedlings to boost food production in the state.
‘I urge the Federal Government to do everything possible to ensure that the displaced persons most of whom are farmers go back to their ancestral homes,’ Governor Ortom appealed.
On his part, Special Adviser, Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Barr Ken Achabo, regretted that incessant herder attacks on the state had brought untold hardship to the people many of whom farmlands have been destroyed.
He expressed the assurance that the free distribution of the seedlings would serve as palliatives to farmers in the state.