NIGERIA – Nigeria’s Agro Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) project has commenced the free distribution of agro-allied incentives worth N633m (US$1.6m) to rice farmers in Kogi State aimed to boost production.

APPEALS is a six-year project developed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) in collaboration with the World Bank and other stakeholders.

The Project is in line with the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) 2016-2020 also known as the Green Alternative, which built on the legacy of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA); and plans to support policy thrusts on Food Security, Local Production, Job Creation and Economic Diversification.

The N633 (US$1.6m) grant channelled through the Value Chain Investment Plan (VCIP) targets 697 rice farmers who are spread over 1780 hectares of land across the state, reports Vanguard.

Some of the input to be distributed includes certified improved rice seed obtained from national seed (faro 44) council, pre-emergence and post emergence chemicals, chemical sprayers and protective kit for farmers.

In addition, the farmers have already started preparing land in collaboration with ministry of agriculture by the use of tractors which have so far cleared and harrowed over 500 hectares of land, with the process still on going.

“We have procured over 25,000 litres of chemicals, 50,000 kg of rice seedlings, 690 chemical sprayers which will be distributed to farmers in their farm and the items are branded not for sale,” said Mr. Sani Ozomata, state coordinator of the programme.

“The aim of the grant is to enable farmers grow so that they can be source of employment to others, since they are not paying back the money. We will continue to support them on production, processing and marketing. We will also continue to allien with the state government policy on agriculture,” he added.

Nigeria has shifted its focus to Agriculture, making it a major strategy in the economic diversification programme.

This comes as oil fortunes are slumping, whose future continues to be bleak amid rising volatility in global oil prices and an increasing shift towards green energy which are all threatening the profitability of the oil industry which has for a long time been the backbone of Nigeria’s economy.

To this end, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has targeted to fund the value chains of nine agricultural commodities in the 2020 wet planting season to the tune of N432bn (US$1.1bn) to prevent the country from sliding into a recession, as is currently being experienced in some major economies of the world.

The commodities to be funded include rice, cotton, oil palm, tomato, cassava, poultry, fish, maize, cocoa and livestock/diary.

The funding would be sent through designated participating banks, targeting over 1.1 million farmers, cultivating over one million hectares of farmland which will in turn result in a cumulative output of 8.3 million metric tonnes of commodities.

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