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BATNF flags off Rice Project in Niger, Benue

British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation on Thursday 2nd July 2015 flagged off its 4th agricultural enterprise development project for 2015. The rice enterprise development project flagged off in Dokko Community Niger State is the 4th in the long list of agriculture development projects flagged off by the Foundation in rural communities in Nigeria in 2015. The rice enterprise development project supports the Federal Government’s drive for self-sufficiency in local rice production in Nigeria and fulfils the Foundation’s strategic focus to support smallholder farmers in rural communities in Nigeria for enhanced productivity, improved income and better livelihoods.

FEATURED PHOTO CAPTION: Project Manager British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation Mr. Olusegun Adewole with beneficiaries of the BATNF rice enterprise development project in Dokko community Niger State and other guests at the official flag-off of the project.

Presenting a special address at the ceremony, Mr. Remi Adewole, Project Manager of the British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation who represented Abimbola Okoya, General Manager of the Foundation stated that the rice enterprise development project in Niger State was the 4th project in sustainable agriculture to be flagged of by the Foundation in 2015. He said that more projects in support of sustainable agriculture would be flagged-off in the course of the planting season in other communities in Nigeria in fulfilment of the Foundation’s mission to support socioeconomic development in Nigeria. He also mentioned that the Niger State rice development project was in its second cycle after the first cycle was commenced in 2014. Reiterating the Foundation’s commitment to sustainable development in Nigeria, Mr. Adewole listed other projects completed by the Foundation in Niger State which include rice enterprise development project in Jima Community Niger State and a solar powered borehole donated to Danko Emiworogi Community. He commended the State for their cooperation with the Foundation over the years and expressed hopes for the success of the rice enterprise development project in Dokko community.

Alhaji Usman Kutigi, Project Coordinator of the Niger State FADAMA III Project whilst speaking at the flag-off ceremony commended the Foundation for their contribution to agriculture in rural Nigerian communities and made an appeal to other NGOs and private organisations to support agriculture in Nigeria. He mentioned that the BATNF rice project in Niger State which is managed by the FADAMA III Project was the most recent partnership between the Project and NGOs/private organisations, he commended the partnership and expressed hope for other partnerships of the same kind. He also noted that such partnerships were necessary to move agriculture forward in line with the objectives of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Alhaji M. Fari a beneficiary of the BATNF rice enterprise development project in Dokko Niger State receiving input from Mr. Olusegun Adewole, Project Manager British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation in the presence of Mr. Daramola Olayiwola Area Manager British American Tobacco Nigeria (middle) and Alhaji Abdul Ahmed, Director, Niger State ministry of Agriculture (right)

Alhaji M. Fari a beneficiary of the BATNF rice enterprise development project in Dokko Niger State receiving input from Mr. Olusegun Adewole, Project Manager British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation in the presence of Mr. Daramola Olayiwola Area Manager British American Tobacco Nigeria (middle) and Alhaji Abdul Ahmed, Director, Niger State ministry of Agriculture (right)

Also speaking at the event, Alhaji Ilyasu, Coordinator of the Niger State Chapter of the Agriculture Graduates Association of Nigeria (AGAN) commended the Foundation for contributing to the Niger State Agriculture Investment Scheme – a concept developed by the AGAN to provide solution to economic problems in the State by creating investment opportunities in the agricultural sector.

A representative of the Central Bank of Nigeria in the State, Mrs O.M Suleiman enjoined the farmers to make the most of British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation interventions. She also listed schemes and grants made available by the CBN to smallholder farmers in Nigeria and asked the farmers to avail themselves of those opportunities and every other opportunity given to improve their farming.

In response to all the remarks, the beneficiaries of the BATNF rice enterprise development project in Doko community Niger State, represented by their coordinator Alhaji Fari thanked the Foundation for their intervention and stated that they was remarkable increase in their production as a result of the Foundation’s interventions. Alhaji Fari also said that farmers who were not beneficiaries of the scheme in 2014 were clamouring to take part. He also asked the farmers not to divert any of the inputs given to them for rice production to other farms or other crops and explained that diverting the inputs would lead to depreciation in production of rice.

Alhaji Abdul Ahmed representing the Permanent Secretary of Niger State Ministry of Agriculture who represented the Governor of Niger State officially flagged of the project after all the speeches had been made. Also present at the ceremony was Thomas Chackunal, Managing Director of Contec Global Agro Limited who gave a goodwill message.
With the joint mission to boost the economy through support for agriculture the British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation and supported by the Niger State FADAMA III Project is set to boost rice enterprise in Niger State.

In a related development, the company, in fulfilling its vision also flagged-off its cycle 2 of Rice Enterprise Value-chain Development Project in Benue State. This is in support of the Federal Government’s self-sufficiency in local rice production in the country.

The project, which started in 2014 with cycle 1, aims at empowering 30 selected rural small holder rice farmers in Kwande Local Government of the State through agricultural inputs distribution, pre-season training, on-season training, post-season training, market survey, market establishment and market linkages, is in collaboration with Benue State FADAMA III project.

In his welcome address, the State Project Coordinator, Benue State FADAMA III Project, Mr. Godwin Tortya, thanked the Foundation for the wonderful support given to the beneficiary farmers in Kwande Local Government. He said that the dramatic changes that are taking place in farming worldwide was as a result of globalization and rapid urbanization. Farmers are intensifying existing patterns of production and diversifying their farming enterprises in an attempt to improve livelihood.

From right: Chief Zaki Otesi, Traditional Head of Adikpo Community; Mr. J.T. Abbah, Director, Research and Training, Benue State Ministry of Agriculture; Abimbola Okoya, General Manager, British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation; Mr. Godwin Tortya, State Coordinator, Benne State FADAMA III Project; Mr. Nicholas Iorrosu, Acting Chairman, Kwande Local Government and Mrs. Felicia Abee, a beneficiary during presentation of agricultural inputs to the farmers.

From right: Chief Zaki Otesi, Traditional Head of Adikpo Community; Mr. J.T. Abbah, Director, Research and Training, Benue State Ministry of Agriculture; Abimbola Okoya, General Manager, British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation; Mr. Godwin Tortya, State Coordinator, Benne State FADAMA III Project; Mr. Nicholas Iorrosu, Acting Chairman, Kwande Local Government and Mrs. Felicia Abee, a beneficiary during presentation of agricultural inputs to the farmers.

Abimola Okoya, BATNF General Manager (3rd right) and Tajudeen Akinwande, BATNF Communication and Event Manager (4th right) in the traditional Tiv attire with the beneficiary farmers after the presentation by the Community Chief of Adikpo.

Abimola Okoya, BATNF General Manager (3rd right) and Tajudeen Akinwande, BATNF Communication and Event Manager (4th right) in the traditional Tiv attire with the beneficiary farmers after the presentation by the Community Chief of Adikpo.

‘It is based on this that the BATNF in partnership with Fadama III Project choose to empower our rural farmers for a sustainable future through sustainable agricultural value chain to enhance their production skills.’ He stated.

He enjoined the beneficiaries to ensure proper implementation of the project so as to boost rice production in Kwande Local Government in particular and Benue State in general so as to sustain the ‘food basket’ status of the State.

In his remarks, the Director-General/Acting Chairman of Kwande Local Government, Mr. Nicholas Iorrosu, thanked the Foundation for deem it fit to empower the rural rice farmers within his local government area. Mr. Iorrosu said that though farmers in some parts of the State are having issues with the normadic fulanis which makes farmers absconded from their farms, but appealed to Foundation to extend the intervention to other local government areas in the State that also have comparative advantages in rice production.

He appealed to the beneficiaries to put their best into the project so as to have Kwande Local Government on the map as one the of rice producing communities in the country,

In his own message, the chairman of BATNF-Kwande Rice Farmers Progressive Co-operative Society Limited, Mr. Abanger Richard, on behalf of the farmers thanked the Foundation for boosting their rice production through trainings, farm inputs and finance during the 2014 farming season.

He stated that the early disbursement of fund for land preparation, the official flagging up and distribution of rice production inputs for the current 2015 planting season is a very welcome development for the beneficiary farmers.

Mr. Richard further stated that with the BATNF intervention the farmers have been able to: form themselves into cohesive cooperative group; they meet once in a month; opened a current account with Bank of Agriculture, Makurdi which they have started depositing money; they are now exposed, with the help from Benue State FADAMA III, to new technologies on best agronomic practices on rice production; new market linkages; and they are now operating a revolving loan facilities among members of the group.

In her own remarks at the event, the Foundation’s General Manager, Abimbola Okoya, thanked those present for creating time to attend the very important event. She said that the event is of great importance as it demonstrates the classical example of how corporate bodies can improve the lives of the rural dwellers through corporate social investment to promote socio-economic development most especially among the youths.

Abimbola stated that the comparative advantage farmers from Kwande Local Government have in rice production hence its intervention in 2014 with 30 selected small holder rice farmers for a 3-year intervention.

‘With the fruitful collaboration with Benue State FADAMA III Project, we have successfully started migrating our beneficiary small holder farmers from subsistence to commercial farming. This is evidently clear in the report received on cycle 1 where farmers have harvested over 3 tons from 1 hectare per farmer as against less than 1.5 tons per hectare before our intervention.’ She added.

In his message, the Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Isaac Shaapera, who was represented at the event by the Director, Training and Research, Mr. J.T. Abbah said that it is no more a news to the citizens of this country, efforts of governments at all level in improving agricultural production. He further stated that the imported rice into the country is not good for consumption. ‘Research indicated that rice imported into this country is not farm fresh as they have been harvested and stored in silos five years before exporting them into the country.’ He added.

Mr. Shaapera acknowledged the efforts of the Foundation in alleviating the problems facing the poor-resource rural farmers in the State. He said that the full package of the intervention makes very unique.

‘On behalf of the State Government, I want to seize this opportunity to thank the British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation for the unsolicited support given to the farmers from Kwande Local Government and enjoined the Foundation to keep the flag of real corporate social responsibility flying.’ He said.

Mr. Abbah, on behalf of the permanent secretary, flagged-off the cycle 2 of the enterprise project with formal inputs distribution to the beneficiary farmers.

Highlight of the event was the honourary title bestowed on the Foundation’s team by the traditional head of Adikpo Community, Chief Zaki Otesi.

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