The leadership of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) has declared the readiness to extend rice cultivation to the 31 local government areas of Akwa Ibom towards achieving food sufficiency in the state.
The state chairman of RIFAN, Professor Etim Ituen, who made this known in an exclusive interview with Midweek Pioneer Agric in Uyo, noted specifically that commercial rice cultivation would be extended to the local government areas where there are swamps and fertile soil in the state.
Etim, who is of the Department of Agricultural Engineering in the University of Uyo (UNIUYO), assured that RIFAN,under his leadership, would intensify efforts in mobilizing Akwa Ibom people towards the cultivation of rice in commercial quantity in every part of the state.
The Professor of Agricultural Engineering assured that the riverine local government areas of the state would form their target in the commercial cultivation of rice for the commodityto be produced in abundance in the state.
He promised to target Oruk Anam, Etim Ekpo and other riverine local government areas of the state for the project to complement the efforts of rice farmers in Ini, Ibiono Ibom and Uruan Local Government Areas.
Ituen posited that many people of Akwa Ibom have now indicated strong interest in the cultivation of rice because it is a lucrative venture, noting that rice could be cultivated three times a year, as it takes three months after cultivation to mature for harvesting.
His words: “Rice is important source of income generation. Rice is the food commodity that is consumed by all in the society. Rice is used in every celebration, be it wedding,Christmas, birthday and funeral ceremony.
“Rice is needed everywhere in the society and can solve hunger problems of any nation of the world since it can beplanted three times in a year,” he explained, hinting that apart from rice cultivation, members would be encouraged by his regime to engage in the processing of the commodity.
He assured that efforts would be geared towards making RIFAN members in the state to acquire and own rice processing mills to enhance their capacity in the production of the commodity.
Ituen, who participated in a one-day sensitization of Agricultural Stakeholders on NG- Cares Result Area 2, Akwa Ibom, organized by the state Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with Nigeria Covid-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus, which took place in Uyo, described the programme as commendable as it would help participants to venture into many areas of agricultural production in the state.
Commenting on the case that was in the Uyo High Court against his leadership, Ituen appreciated God for ensuring that judgement was delivered in his favour and promised to do his utmost for the impact of the association to be felt positively in all parts of the state.
He solicited the cooperation of all and sundry and that of thestate government in providing enabling environment for the best to be achieved in rice production in Akwa Ibom.