The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) has supported nine community based cluster groups in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state, with processing and packaging equipment to boost rice cultivation, with the aim of supporting them in building resilient livelihoods against hunger and poverty.
The beneficiaries, drawn from community based cooperative societies/groups, were given power tillers with plough, harrow blades, de-stoning machines, rice thrashers, water pumps and moisture meters for irrigation, among others.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said the nine community-based cooperatives, including women groups, drawn from six local governments are expected to use the equipment to ease cultivation and processing, as well as improve the quality of the finished product to favorably compete in the market.
The Ebonyi state Commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr. Moses Nome said in any identified area of comparative advantage in the State, the government is willing to expand cooperation with FAO, especially in agriculture value chain.
FAO Country Representative, Suffyan Koroma, commended the commitment of the farmers, which has earned the Abakaliki rice a reputation in the country.
“Attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires dedication, and to this end, FAO and her partners will continue to provide the needed support to farmers to improve nutritious food productivity in the country and empower the farmers to sustainably enhance their drive to end poverty and hunger.”
Mr. Koroma also indicated that FAO is supporting the Rice Farmers and Processors with these equipment to make the course of production easier, improve the quality of the finished product and also boost its market value, thus increase the income of the smallholder farmers.
Before and after the distribution, FAO organized training workshops to strengthen the capacity of the small-holder farmers and entrepreneurs along the rice value chain.
Members of the various groups and other stakeholders participated in the training, where they were exposed to Inclusive business management practices, Gender considerations in rice value chain development, environmental and waste management, improving the quality of processed rice for small scale operators and Modern rice parboiling, milling and quality management, among others.
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, a community leader Chief Abel Nwafor commended the efforts of the facilitators, saying that the beneficiary communities will not take for granted the good gesture, but will ensure the equipment are efficiently used and properly maintained.
“We will use the equipment for our benefit, for improving our earnings, for the growth of the renowned Abakaliki rice and the economy of Nigeria.”
Under the project entitled “Capacity Development and Experience Sharing for Sustainable Rice Value Chain Development in Africa through South-South Cooperation”, the Republic of South Korea provides financial support to FAO to enhance the rice value chain in three West African countries, namely Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire, with the objective of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2 related to ending poverty and hunger.