The Ebonyi State Government has urged the Federal Government to support it so that it can commence dry season rice farming and increase the commodity’s production.
The Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Dr. Emma Onwe, made the plea on Wednesday during a courtesy visit to The Punch Place, headquarters of Punch Nigeria Limited in Ogun State.
Dry season rice farming was flagged off in March in Kebbi State by President Muhammadu Buhari to boost the production of the staple. In contrast to wet season farming, it involves investment in irrigation facilities.
Onwe noted that dry season farming was what the state needed to boost its current rice production, adding that the state could not do this alone since irrigation infrastructure was very expensive.
“The Federal Government needs to assist us to expand the production of rice so that it will not just be a wet season farming only, but also dry season farming. To do dry season farming, we need irrigation infrastructure, which is very expensive,” he said.
The commissioner stated that so far, the state had put up 30,000 hectares of land for rice cultivation and the efforts had yielded almost 200,000 metric tonnes of the product, adding that with better technology in the form of multiple harvesters and parboiling machines as well as double cycle production, the state would be able to produce 600,000MT of rice annually, which is about 10 per cent of the country’s total demand.
Onwe said the state planted better and higher yielding rice varieties and had invested in technology to remove stones and foreign bodies from the grains.
“Ebonyi rice can compete with Vietnam and China rice currently,” the commissioner stated, while defending the recent ban on the sale and consumption of imported rice in the state.