Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo, on Thursday, flagged off the Nigeria Coronavirus (COVID-19) Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (N-CARES) programme under which 12,494 smallholder farmers will be provided inputs.
Obaseki during the event held in Umuegbe community in Oredo Local Government Area (LGA), said the state agricultural sector had supported over 3,000 smallholder and large scale farmers.
Obaseki, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr Peter Aikhuomobhogbe, said the government had developed 300 hectares in Iguomon community, Ovia North East LGA for the production of swamp rice.
“A similar intervention programme was undertaken in Warrake community, Owan East LGA on a 500-hectare- farmland.
“In Usugbenu, Ugboha and Sobe communities in Esan Central, Esan South East and Owan West respectively, we empowered 1,500 farmers for the production of maize.
“For the independent farmers initiative, 1400 smallholder farmers were provided with agricultural inputs to drive cassava, maize, rice, soyabean, poultry and fisheries value chain.
“Under the oil palm initiative, 63,000 hectares of brown fields have been made available for nine investors for the development of oil palm plantation aimed at making the state a leader in oil palm production,” he said.
According to him, these initiatives were designed to provide critical support to farmers in the state, leverage on our assets to drive development and diversify the economy with focus on sustaining food security.
Obaseki explained that the N-CARES programme domesticated in Edo and code-named EDO CARES would also support 3,341 smallholder farmers with priority on providing them small tertiary irrigation by revamping existing dams.
He noted that the intervention would also provide boreholes, canals and rehabilitation of existing farm roads, among others.
“The programme is going to make available agricultural assets for the production and mitigating loss and waste which will benefit 4,874 smallholder farmers.
“It will empower them will micro-small agro-processing including cassava and rice mills, maize sheller, grain silos, blast freezers and other storage facilities.
“To strengthen our drive for food security, we will be distributing inputs to 6,227 smallholder farmers across the value chains of cassava, poultry and fisheries,” he added.
Mrs Ifueko Alufohai, the State Coordinator of EDO-CARES said the programme had become necessary as a result of the strict measure put in place to contain the spread of the covid-19 pandemic which had impacted negatively on livelihoods.
Alufohai admonished the beneficiaries to make proper use of the inputs to create wealth for themselves.
Mr Edward Izevbigie, the State Coordinator of FADAMA-NG CARES who welcomed dignitaries to the event, said N-CARES was an emergency World Bank- assisted programme put in place to ameliorate the adverse effects of the pandemic.
The highpoint of the event was the presentation of the farm inputs to the farmers by the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr Osaigbovo Iyoha.
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, the Secretary to Iyekogba Farmers Association, Festus Odigie, commended the governor for the initiative.
Odigie promised to ensure that the beneficiaries made good use of all the farm inputs.
The News Agency of Nigeria NAN reports that the inputs distributed included 1,200 cassava stems, 180 poultry bags of feeds and 234 litres of herbicide.
Others were 3,000 day-old chicks, 3000 fingerlings and juveniles, 39 farm kits and 60 poultry vaccines, among others. (NAN)