The Niger State Government says it has concluded arrangements to partner the National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI) to boost rice and sugarcane farming in the state.
The Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Jonathan Vatsa, made this known on Monday when he visited the institute in Badeggi in the state.
“We have so many things to gain from the institute and we are willing to partner NCRI.
“We want to close the gap between us and the institute so that our farmers can produce the best crops, especially with varieties of seedlings.
“As we go into partnership with them, they will get us improved seeds of rice, soya beans, sugarcane and other cereals, and we will be able to feed the country and even the whole of West Africa.
“We have the human resources, the farmlands and by the time we get the improved seedlings, Niger will be the state to beat.
“Gov. Abubakar Bello is ready to provide the facilities for the irrigation farming,” he said.
In his remarks earlier, the Acting Executive Director of NCRI, Dr Samuel Agboire, called on the state government to take irrigation farming seriously if it must take its rightful position as the biggest rice producer in the country.
According to him, we have the potential to support the state; we coordinate activities of states in the North-Central zone where Niger is.
“Light and water are our major problems. If we must compete favourably with other states, then irrigation facilities must be revived.
“To be number one producer of rice in the country, irrigation facilities must be put in place.
“This is a rice producing state; we have 70 rice varieties which can benefit farmers in the state.
“Other states have overtaken Niger that has the land mass, suitable soil, human resources and NCRI, the oldest cereals institute in the country,” Agboire said.
He advised the state government to take advantage of the NCRI, saying “our presence in the state has been under-utilised since the establishment of the institute”. (NAN)