Rice farmers in Ikot Abasi and Mkpat Enin Local Government Areas have risen in unison to request for the provision and installation of rice processing mill from the Federal Government to assist them in the commercial production of the commodity.
Coordinator of the group, Pastor Moses Umoeka, who made call during the flag-off of about five hectares of rice farm in Ikot Obioko community, Ikot Abasi Local Government Area by their consultant, Mr Emmanuel Usua, said for farmers in the area to achieve high productivity in rice production a standard rice mill must be established by the Federal Government.
Umoeka also pleaded for financial assistance from the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for his members as an encouragement for them to put in their best in the commercial production of rice for the consumption by the public.
In addition, he appealed to the state government to come to their aid in the area of land preparation to encourage his members to embark on the cultivation of rice in the farm.
Umoeka said his members decided to embark on commercial cultivation of rice as their contribution to the attainment of food sufficiency and food security in the state.
He pledged the commitment of rice farmers in Mkpat Enin and Ikot Abasi Local Government Areas not to give up on the commercial cultivation of rice, having been adequately trained in the process of raising the nursery and transplanting by their consultant.
Umoeka expressed appreciation to God for blessing the area with fertile soil for rice cultivation in commercial quantity, noting that with government assistance in land preparation, the sky would be their limit in the production of rice.
He appealed to the state government to give appropriate attention to the production of rice in commercial quantity to encourage the participation of many unemployed youths of the state in farming.
Umoeka explained that with concrete assistance from the state and federal governments in the production of rice, it would be possible to reduce the crime rate in society, as many Nigerian youths would be willing to participate in the cultivation of the crop.
The consultant, Mr Emmanuel Usua, noted with satisfaction the enthusiasm the farmers exhibited in the cultivation of rice, noting that with encouragement from the government their products would compete favourable in the Nigerian market.
Usua, who is also the chairman of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area where Ibom Golden Rice is produced, assured that by December this year the rice farm would be ready for harvest.
He said he decided to guide farmers in the cultivation of about five hectares of rice farm through the adoption of direct planting and broadcasting methods, expressing optimism that with the fertile land they are going to make bountiful harvest by December this year.
Usua solicited assistance from both the federal and state governments to enable rice farmers in Mkpat Enin and Ikot Abasi Local Government Areas to meet the task ahead in the production of the commodity, thereby contributing to food sufficiency in the state and in the country.