At least 150 rice farmers across Edo State were on Wednesday assisted with rice seeds and other farm inputs through interventions by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Karima Babangida, director, federal department of agriculture, FMARD, who distributed the farm inputs to the farmers in Benin City, said it was part of efforts at cushioning the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, damage caused by flood and boost production of rice in the country.
Babangida said in addition to Edo State, the intervention was extended to 150 rice farmers from nine other states, including Benue, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Gombe, Kogi, Ogun, Oyo, Katsina and Sokoto.
The director, represented by Aliyu Suleiman from the ministry, explained that each rice farmer would get 50kg of certified seeds, four bags of NPK fertilizer, two bags of Urea, one litre of soil amender, four litres of pesticides and five litres of pre/post-emergence herbicides.
According to her, these are the complete inputs needed to cultivate one hectare of farmland. One hundred and fifty (150) smallholder farmers were selected from each of the benefiting states to cultivate a hectare of rice farm each.
She, however, warned that there should be no diversion or sale of the inputs as the government had put mechanisms in place to monitor and deal with any farmer who errs.
Earlier, Wellington Omoragbon, Edo State director of FMARD, commended the Federal Government for providing series of agricultural programmes, assuring that they would monitor the farmers in their farms and provide the needed extension services throughout the production period.