Ogbeh: Ebonyi farmers need help, they’re still harvesting rice by hand

Audu Ogbeh, minister of agriculture, says rice farmers in Ebonyi state are still in the business of harvesting by hand and with sickle.

Speaking at the ongoing African Economic Conference in Abuja, Ogbeh said government would intensify support for local farmers, and sustain plans by Akinwumi Adesina, former minister of agriculture, to help local farmers via e-Wallet.

“There’s a need to intensify support, and one of the things we are trying to do now is to reform the bank of agriculture; the African Development Bank is already giving support in that line,” he said.

“We’ve got to build that bank to the level where we can lend money at single digit, as down south as possible to single digit as we can.”

Speaking of the rice farmers and the need to support them with simple machinery, Ogbeh narrated an experience he had with them.

“Over the years, we, in the cities, have never really understood what goes on at the farms. We don’t know the stress of a peasant farmer.

“I was in Ebonyi last week, massive rice production; they are harvesting by hand, using sickle. Imagine a hectare of rice, that is a football field being cut by a man and his wife, bending down all day and then beating the rice on a stick to get the seeds of the tusk.

“If that guy has two hectares, he may not finish harvesting till the raining season arrives. So we need harvesters, we need threshers, very simple machines.”

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) earlier said that Ebonyi rice farmers had outstripped the earmarked production for the year.

Ogbeh assured Nigerians that there would be no famine in Nigeria, emphasising that the federal government has a plan to combat any occurrence of food  shortage.

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