Rice farmers target bumper harvest in Bayelsa

Rice Farmers Association (RIFAN) in Bayelsa says it is targeting an annual yield of about 90, 000 tonnes of rice from every five thousand hectares of land across the state.

Ezekiel Ogbianko, the association’s Chairman, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Yenagoa.

RIFAN had acquired five thousand hectares of land from each community in the state.

The communities include Ofoni, Okpotuwari, Ayamasa, Toluebini, Orubiri and Olodani.

Ogbianko said that the association had begun clearing of the land in Ofoni, Sagbama Local Government Area, in preparation for the new planting season.

“The acquisition of land across the state was our first step in the year, 2017.

“We have extended it to the rural communities, because this is where you can get large portion of land; I’m sure it will enable us to actualise our target.

“Our land has expanded and by my calculation, with five thousand hectares of land from each of the communities, we have been able to acquire over 6o, 000 hectares.

“Clearing has started in some of the locations; at Ofoni, we have mobilised tractors and labourers to site; so, from each of these hectares of land, we are targeting 90, 000 tonnes of rice annually.

“`We put it at 90, 000, because in Bayelsa, we have three rice planting and harvesting seasons; that is 30, 000 tonnes from each season.

“The land here needs no irrigation, because they are already wet and fertile for rice cultivation,” the chairman explained.

He said that the acquisition of land in all the eight local government areas of the state, was to engage the communities in agricultural business.

“It will also encourage local consumption of rice among the people; we are not acquiring land to keep, but to cultivate rice in commercial quantity.

“Even, Rivers, our neighbouring state, has also given us land, the land is located in Okolomade and Abual-Odua Local Government Areas.

“This is to show that we are ready to have surplus rice in the state and in the country at large,’’ he said.