By Ginika Okoye
The Federal Government has commenced distribution of cattle feed mills and rice milling machines to increase local rice production and end farmers/herdsmen clashes across the country.
Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the move was also to use agricultural wastes in feeding cattle and the larger ruminants.
Ogbeh said in Oja Community, Otukpo Area Council of Benue State, that the farm implements which include reapers, threshers, pre-cleaner of rice and feed mills would help to improve the quality of locally produced rice.
“This is one of the most strategic visits that we are paying anywhere. I am glad that the media is here to see the challenges facing agriculture.
“There is so much rice grown in this country that if we harvest all the stalks, there will be enough feed for cattle to last two years from every years’ harvest.
“We are beginning an experiment today to end a problem that is getting very dangerous for Nigeria.
”More of these locally fabricated machines will be built and given to farmers.
“As we begin this experiment, we will organise more funds to build more machines to distribute nationwide.
“This is the solution and we believe that now that harvest is beginning, between now and the end of the year, we will have harvested enough residues and provided enough feed for the cattle in different parts of the country.
“When this happens, we minimise, or succeed in eliminating completely any further conflicts.
“In the next two weeks, you will see us distributing these machines.
“It will be spread in the North East and West as well as Anambra, Ebonyi, Ogun, Katsina and Jigawa states.’’
The minister said that the equipment would be given to youth farmers to handle on credit and discounted rate.
The Traditional Ruler of Otukpo, Mr John Eimonye, appreciated the Federal Government for the equipment.
According to him, the equipment will enable increased rice farming and production next year to unprecedented levels.
“I will like to use this opportunity to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for this kind gesture to our community.
“This will help us a lot,’’ Eimonye said.
The traditional ruler however appealed to the government to provide feeder roads and dams that would facilitate the movement of agricultural goods from farms to the markets and production of food.
The Youth Leader of the community, Mr Agaba Inalegwu, who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries, appreciated the Federal Government adding that the youths would ensure maintenance and security of the equipment.
Inalegwu said the youths were ready and willing to farm but lacked modern farming implements which made farming unattractive.
He noted that with support such as this, from the Federal Government, the youths would be encouraged and motivated to take up farming again and earn money from it.
Mr Charles Frimpong, the fabricator of the machines, said the machines had the capacity to produce two to 2.5 tonnes per hour, adding that it would make agricultural activities easier.
Frimpong, also the Managing Director of Hanigha Nigeria Limited, said the company would collaborate with other local fabricators of agricultural equipment to produce more of the machines for distribution to other states.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that plans are underway to replicate distribution of the mills in all 36 states of the country. (NAN)