The State Programme Coordinator (SPC), Dr. Mathew Ahmed, projected that the act will help in creating jobs even as the goods were distributed to the beneficiaries.
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He also stated that he will ensure that international best practices are used as the standard for rice farming in the state.
“We are here today to distribute rice processing machines to our farmers to enable them to produce rice that will compete favourably with the foreign rice.”
“Many of the foreign rice we eat today in Nigeria are not better than our local rice because they are expired but our local rice is fresh.”
“Some of the foreign rice we eat constitute health hazards, hence the need for VCDP to ensure food security,’’ he said.
The beneficiaries received specifically, five rice de-stoners, 10 rice parboilers, and 46 manual sprayers.
He also stated that the price of the equipment will be subsidized and made affordable.
The Coordinator of the programme also disclosed that the women group who ended up being beneficiaries were picked from five local governments, Bida, Wushishi, Kontagora, Shiroro and Katcha.
He added that all participants were trained on mechanised agricultural practices as well as using the first-bottom approach to parboil rice.
“We are presently working with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to make sure that our farmers adhere to international best practices that will make their product accepted across the globe,’’ he said.
He said that there were 13,000 farmers participating in rice and cassava value chain in the state.
The Wife of the State Governor, Dr. Amina Bello Lauded the step taken by IFAD-VCDP, saying that it had added value to the state’s agriculture drive.
She was represented by Mrs Kaltume Rufai, the Permanent Secretary, Niger State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
Bello urged the beneficiaries to utilise the equipment to ensure the success of the programme.
“Responding on behalf of one of the beneficiary groups, Hajiya Hadiza Yunusa, Chairman, Nufawamasu Gumi Rice Producers Association, Bida said that before the coming of IFAD-VCDP the colour of their rice was not attractive and contained impurities.”
“Yunusa said that the VCDP had trained them on modern ways of cultivating, processing and marketing rice.”
“Now we sell our rice and cassava to other West African countries, our customers even book in advance,’’ Yunusa said.