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Food security: NDDC to empower 4,500 rice, cassava farmers  

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The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), has commenced a partnership with communities in the Niger Delta region to empower 4,500 rice and cassava farmers to ensure food security in the region and country at large.

Speaking during the onboarding Programme for the empowerment of the farmers at the NDDC Headquarters in Port Harcourt, the NDDC Managing Director (MD), Dr Samuel Ogbuku, said that the initiative was part of the proactive effort of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to empower people of the Niger Delta and promote food security in Nigeria.

In a statement by the Director of Corporate Affairs, Pius Ughakpoteni, Ogbuku, who was represented by the Executive Director, Projects, Sir Victor Antai, said that the flagship agricultural initiative would support smallholder rice and cassava farmers with data, financing, farm inputs, mechanisation and extension services to sustainably produce rice and cassava to enhance their income and contribute to food sufficiency in the Niger Delta region.

He stated: “This programme is conservatively projected to produce 12,000 tons of paddy rice and 10,500 tons of cassava tubers in the pilot phase this farming season”.

“In addition to supporting farmers with factors of production, this project will connect farmers to the market by providing off-taking and help them build the performance and credit record they need to benefit subsequently from commercial financing.

“We are aware that some agricultural programmes in the region are hampered by a lack of land preparation occasioned by the thick vegetation and storage. We will use the successful example of this initiative to catalyze the required investment in agricultural infrastructure”.

The NDDC boss charged the farmers involved in the initiative to set the tone for scaling the successful integration of Niger Delta farmers into modern agricultural value chains, noting: “The Niger Delta Development Commission will support farmers to enhance good agronomic practices and accelerate the development and adoption of relevant scientific and technological applications to enhance productivity and sustainability”.

He said that the NDDC was conscious of the impact of climate change in the Niger Delta and would work with relevant partners to introduce climate adaptation and mitigation measures to support farmers, including the adoption of climate-smart agriculture.

Speaking earlier, the NDDC Director of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mrs. Winifred Madume, described the project as capable of enhancing the agricultural activities and economic well-being of the people.

She said: “The Niger Delta region is a significant contributor to Nigeria’s agricultural production and global trade, particularly in palm oil and cassava. Despite declining production, the region still holds comparative advantages in agriculture. The NDDC is dedicated to restoring the region’s agricultural potential through this project, emphasizing professionalism and accountability in its execution.

“The commission will closely monitor and evaluate the project’s progress, tracking implementation against key parameters such as time, quality, and impact. Furthermore, the NDDC plans to share data and insights with commercial banks and development partners to attract support for farmers in the region”.

The project consultant, Mr. Dimieari Kemedi, commended the NDDC for the initiative, which he said, would help the Niger Delta contribute to regional and National food security and attract funding to the agricultural sector.

He noted: “Food security here means not just availability but also affordability. This programme will contribute to reducing food inflation in the Niger Delta through greater availability of food and also by reducing cost of logistics component since the food will be produced here in the Niger Delta”.

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