Uyo – Akwa Ibom Government has provided 10 tractors and incentives to farmers in the last six months to boost farming in the state.
Dr Glory Edet, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, told newsmen in Uyo on Friday that the state had empowered a lot of farmers with soft interest-free loans of N100, 000 each to cultivate farms.
“The state governor has bought 10 tractors for farmers in the state in order to promote Fadama programmes which would round up in June this year.
“When we look at our farmers, there are some that may be willing to cultivate larger portions of land but cannot do so because of financial constraints, so what government has done is to assist farmers so that next year, we will have more food.
“We assist farmers with interest free loan and about six months ago, we started with vegetable farmers in the state,” she explained.
She said the money was paid directly to the account of the farmers who before then had to fill application forms.
She explained that the tractor operators had been sent to the three Senatorial Districts of Eket, Uyo and Ikot Ekpene to clear, plough and prepare the land for planting.
She added that the state government had also given inputs such as seedlings, cassava cottons, agro chemicals, among others to farmers in the state.
According to her, government gave the farmers money, while the Ministry of Agriculture conducted sensitization and training for the farmers.
“We also have extension workers and train-the-trainers to assist support farmers on anything they want to cultivate. We encourage existing farmers and prospective farmers to join the scheme.
“If you are cultivating one hectare, of course you can not collect the same amount of money with the person cultivating five or six hectares. We have done that in order to assist farmers to grow,” she said.
She noted that the state government was promoting coconut cultivation in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area, saying that Akwa Ibom was leading in coconut cultivation in Nigeria.
“We have cultivated about 2,000 hectares of coconut in Mkpat Enin, Eastern Obolo and Ikot Abasi Local Government Areas in the state.
“The coconut cultivation is really improving and we are preparing to extend it to Okobo Local Government Area of the state,” she said.
He said the areas the state government was promoting coconut cultivation were Mkpat Enin, Eastern Obolo and Ikot Abasi local government areas of the state.
She explained that the state government had been promoting agriculture in secondary schools, saying the Ministry of Agriculture had sensitised principals to plant coconut in public schools in the state. (NAN)