By Justina Asishana – Minna
No fewer than 114 youths and six women groups have been empowered by the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) for its rice consortium project in Niger state.
The Organization distributed rice milling machines, sprayers and motorcycles to women groups and youths in 19 local government areas in the state.
The empowered youths are 114 Community Based Facilitators while 19 extension agents were given motorcycles for ease in mobility.
Making the distribution in Minna at the Agricultural and Mechanization Authority (NAMDA), the Secretary to the Niger State Government, Ahmed Ibrahim Matane said that provisions of equipment are serious energizer for the youth and far with e in the area.
He said that with the ease in mobility, the farmers will be able to get adequate advice from the extension agents on how to improve the yield of their farm produce.
Matane, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Economic Affairs, Alhaji Baba Wachiko urged the Ministry of Agriculture to develop a monitoring mechanism that will track the machines and equipment distributed to prevent it from being sold or misused.
“It is a very serious matter that a lot of government intervention are being abandoned or sold because of lack of adequate monitoring and community ownership. There have been a lot of interventions but most of them are nowhere to be tracked, therefore this one should be adequately monitored.”
In his address, the Commissioner for Livestock and Fisheries, Honorable Nuhu Dukku who represented the Commissioner for Agriculture appreciate the intervention by AGRA especially on addressing the lack of mobility on extension agents saying that it will enable them to carry out their jobs with ease.
He said that without the extension agents, most of the interventions by the government would not be known to the farmers in the rural areas adding that extension agents are very vital to agricultural development in the state.
Dukku noted that the state government is planning to recruit new extension agents as the current agents are not adequate enough to cover the whole state and address the challenges faced by the farmers.
The AGRA Associate Programme Officer, Godswill Aguiyi said that the rice consortium project in Niger state is aimed at increasing rice productivity, improve income and food security in Niger state.
According to him, the organization is targeting 150,000 farms to bee with improved inputs, good agromical practices and post harvest management in order to improve the productivity and income of the farmers in the state.
“We are here to cover gaps identified in farming in the state. AGRA is here To Help the farmers and support them in what they are doing. What we are doing will not change the dynamics of farming in Niger state but it will go a long way to help the beneficiaries.”
One of the beneficiary, Khadijat Abdullahi from the Wushishi Women Processor Group appreciated AGRA and the state government for the gesture saying it will go a long way in improving their rice productivity.
One of the Extension Agents, Mallams Abdullahi Mai-gogo said that they have been walking on foot for a long time saying that the provision of the motorcycle is a welcome development.
He said that they can now carry out their jobs with ease and help farmers in any challenges they face in the field and proffer solutions also.
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