The World Bank, in conjunction with the Nigerian government, plans to spend 35 million dollars (N9.8 billion) on rice cultivation in Enugu State under the FADAMA III Additional Financing Project.

Leader of the 5th World Bank/FGN Joint Supervision Team on the scheme, Dr. Adetunji Oredipe made the disclosure in Enugu on Friday when the team visited Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.

Dr Oredipe, said that the state was one of the six earmarked to participate in the FADAMA III Additional Refinancing Project.

He named others as Lagos, Anambra, Kano, Kogi and Niger, adding the Enugu State had demonstrated the political will and potential for rice production.

The team leader told the governor, however, that the investment would be predicated on the willingness of the state government to pay its counterpart contribution to the fund.

He noted that Enugu State was a huge player in rice production having moved its average yield to 3.5 metric tonnes per hectare, adding that there was still hope for advancement.

Dr. Oredipe said that the Federal Government was pushing a two-point agenda in the rice value chain which were import substitution and employment creation for the youths.

He explained that under the scheme, government sought to place a ban on the importation of rice, sorghum, tomatoes and cassava.

“We have awarded a contract of 58.9km feeder roads as well as supported 1,709 farmers in the state.

“There is also hope for increasing the number because we are looking at supporting 5,000 farmers across the state.

“What is standing against this is the counterpart fund.

“Now that other states are joining, if you are fast, you will be able to support farmers in your state,” Oredikpe said.

Responding, Governor Ugwuanyi appealed to the Federal Government to rehabilitate the Adani Irrigation facility under the FADAMA III Additional Project Financing in the state.

The governor said that the rehabilitation of the irrigation facility would encourage farmers to cultivate rice year-round.

The governor, who expressed delight at the Federal Government’s extension of the initiative to 2019, said the state government would ensure that more farmers benefited.

“I hope that arrangements are still intact for the rehabilitation of the Adani irrigation project in order to address the challenges of our farmers engaging in year-round rice production.

“We commend you for the feeder roads which you want to construct to ensure easy accessibility to the rice fields,’’ he said.

Ugwuanyi expressed regret that paucity of funds had made it impossible for the state government to pay its counterpart contribution to the project.

He said: “once we source for the credit facility we are expecting, the counterpart fund will be paid.

“We are committed to this project and will work with the World Bank to ensure that the capacity and economy of our farmers are enhanced.’’

Author: Cerebral Lemon