The Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has empowered 114 youths and six women groups in Niger State to consolidate its rice consortium project.
The beneficiaries, across 19 Local Government Areas of the state, received items including rice milling machines, sprayers and motorcycles.
The rice consortium project in Niger State seeks to increase rice productivity, improved income and food security in Niger State, AGRA Associate Programme Officer, Godswill Aguiyi said.
AGRA is targeting 150,000 farms for improved inputs, good agromical practices and post-harvest management to improve the livelihood of farmers.
Describing the provision as a “serious energiser for the youth and farmers” in the area, Secretary to the Niger State Government, Ahmed Ibrahim Matane said it would also elevate the value chain.
Matane flagged off the distribution at the Agricultural and Mechanisation Authority (NAMDA) centre in Minna. He was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Economic Affairs, Alhaji Baba Wachiko.
The empowered youths formed part of the state’s Community-Based Facilitators, while 19 extension agents were given motorcycles to ease mobility.
According to Matane, access to extension agents has been opened to farmers, citing that this will improve farming practices and improve productivity.
He, however, 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 the 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,” he said.
On his part, Commissioner for Livestock and Fisheries, Honorable Nuhu Dukku, who represented the Commissioner for Agriculture lauded AGRA’s intervention, especially on the provision of extension workers.
In his remarks, AGRA has addressed the lack of mobility on extension agents, stating it will enable them to carry out their jobs with ease.
Dukku also revealed that the state government was planning to recruit new extension agents, as the current agents were not enough to cover the state.
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