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South East attaining food sufficiency under GES — Director

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ENUGU –  The South East zone is attaining food sufficiency as a result of the effectiveness of the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme of the Federal Government, Dr Uche Nwafor, has said.

Nwafor, the South East Regional Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu on Wednesday.

He said that the scheme, which is the major plank of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of the Federal Government, was fast attaining its goal of putting food on the table of every Nigerian.

He said that the initial hiccups that affected the participation of farmers in the zone in the scheme had been overcome.

“When the scheme was first introduced in 2012, farmers complained of late redemption and as a result the take-off was very slow.

“But the number of farmers benefiting from the scheme is increasing on a yearly basis and this has given a boost to food production in the zone.”

Nwafor said that in 2012, only 34,497 farmers in the zone redeemed their fertiliser due to the initial hiccups.

“But in 2013, we had a total workable target of 380,755 farmers to be captured in the scheme drawn from Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states.

“Out of this figure, 322,832 farmers redeemed generic fertiliser and 149,479 farmers redeemed 1,454.86 tonnes of maize.”

He said that the figure did not include the fertiliser redeemed in the zone for dry season farming within the period.

Nwafor said that farmers who benefited from the maize seed distribution cultivated an estimated 3, 264 hectares across the zone.

He said that the figure represented the estimated fields cultivated by farmers who benefited from the scheme between 2012 and 2013.

He said that the surge in participation in the scheme by farmers in the area had led to increased food production, forcing down of the prices of staple food.

“People may not feel this at the moment but the truth is that there has been a significant improvement in the prices of staple food in the South East,” he said. (NAN

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