The Bayelsa chapter of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) says it has begun clearing 20,000 hectares of land in the state, in preparation for this year’s rice planting season.
Mr Ezekiel Ogbianko, the State RIFAN Chairman, said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Okpotuwari on Monday.
He said that 20,000 hectares of land in Ondowari and Okpotuwari communities in Southern-Ijaw Local Government Area (LGA) as well as Ofoni and Ayamsa communities in Sagbama LGA were to be cleared for rice cultivation.
Ogbianko, who spoke with NAN in Okpotuwari after inspecting some of the sites, said that 5, 000 hectares of land in each of the four communities would be cleared and used for rice plantations.
He said that the inspection of the sites was organised by a RIFAN team, led its Chairperson in FCT, Mrs Asmau Yusuf, to oversee the progress of work at the sites.
Besides, Ogbianko said that the association had so far acquired lands from over 26 communities in the eight local government areas of the state for rice farming.
He stressed that the exercise was in line with the Federal Government’s campaign on promotion of the production and consumption of local rice.
He said that more than 50 per cent of work at the sites had been completed, adding that plans were underway to mobilise more workers to site.
“We have plans to engage more than 485 young farmers to work with us in each of the four 5,000-hectare farmlands,’’ Ogbianko said.
Also speaking, Yusuf told NAN that the progress of work on the farmlands was commendable and urged rice farmers in the state to remain focused.
According to her, the Federal Government is ready to support rice cultivation in Bayelsa.
Mr John Daniel, the Site Engineer at Okpotuwari, said that the clearing of the lands would be completed within two weeks, adding, however, that paucity of funds had been hindering the progress of work.
“We are pushing ahead and the work is progressing; I believe we will soon finish the land clearing to enable us to commence rice cultivation on time,’’ he said. (NAN)