COVID-19: Obaseki Flags Off N-CARES Agric Programme In Support of Edo Farmers

As part of deliberate efforts to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on the economy of the state and guarantee food security, Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki on Thursday flagged off the Nigeria Coronavirus (COVID-19) Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (N-CARES) programme which would support over 12,494 small-holder farmers across the state with farm inputs.

Governor Obaseki disclosed at the ceremony which held in Umuegbe community in Oredo local government area of the state that over 3,000 smallholder and large scale farmers had so far been supported by the state’s agriculture sector.

He also stated that the government had developed 300 hectares of land in Iguomon community, Ovia North East local government area for the production of swamp rice.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Peter Aikhuomobhogbe, the governor said a similar intervention programme was established in Warrake community, Owan East local government area on a 500 hectares of farmland, as well as Usugbenu, Ugboha, and Sobe communities in Esan Central, Esan South East, and Owan West respectively, where the government empowered 1,500 farmers in the production of maize.

According to him, “For the independent farmers initiative, 1,400 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”.

Governor Obaseki explained that the initiatives were designed to provide critical support to farmers in the state, leverage on its assets to drive development, and diversify the economy with focus on sustaining food security.

He further stated that the N-CARES programme, domesticated in Edo, and Code-named EDO CARES, would also support 3,341 smallholder farmers with priority on providing small tertiary irrigation, and revamping of existing dams.

He said the the intervention would also provide boreholes, canals and rehabilitation of existing farm roads, among others.

In his words, “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 with 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”.

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.

She admonished the beneficiaries to make proper use of the inputs to create wealth for themselves.

Welcoming dignitaries to the event, Edward Izevbigie, the state coordinator of FADAMA-NG CARES, said N-CARES was an emergency Relief World Bank- assisted, funded programme put in place to ameliorate the adverse effect of the pandemic.

High point of the event was the presentation of the farm inputs to the farmers by the Chief of Staff to the governor, 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 farm inputs.

The farm inputs distributed included 1,200 cassava stems, 180 poultry feeds, 107.05 fish feeds, 122.694 fertilisers and herbicide 234 liters.

Others were 3,000 day-old chicks, 3,000 fingerlings/juveniles, 39 farm kits, and 60 poultry vaccines, among others.

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