10,000 women farmers to be engaged in ECOWAS rice project – official

 Mr Richard Olafare, the President, Seed Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN) says 10,000 women will be engaged in the recently inaugurated Rice Seed Up-Scaling Project.
This is contained in a presentation on the project made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday.
Olafare said 8,000 youths would also be engaged in the scaling project.
According to him, the number of women and youths represented 50 per cent and 40 per cent respectively of the 20,000 farmers that will participate in the project.
NAN reports that the project is an initiative of the West Africa Seed Programme (WASP) in support of the ECOWAS Rice Offensive Programme that was inaugurated in 2014.
Among other objectives, it is targeting the production of 60,000 metric tonnes of paddy rice for Nigeria by December 2017, using 1,200 certified seeds.

The project is being implemented by SEEDAN in collaboration with the West and Central Africa Council for Agricultural Research and Development (WECARD) and other stakeholders.
Olafare explained that the project would be implemented between March, 2016 and December, 2016 in seven pilot states namely; Kano, Niger, Kebbi, Zamfara, Benue, Ekiti and Ebonyi.
``The project will put about 20,000 hectares of farmland to improved seed production in the seven states that have been selected.
``About 20,000 farmers, 50 per cent of whom are women and 40 per cent youths, will receive access to quality seeds under the two-year programme,’’ he said.
Olafare listed other participants to include seed companies, the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), input suppliers, financial service providers, rice millers and the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC).
According to the SEEDAN president, the project will help to create a link among the participating stakeholders with the overall objective of scaling up the use of improved rice varieties in the country.
The Lead Project Consultant, Mr Sunday Okelola, told NAN that a seven-member National Steering Committee had been constituted to oversee the project.
Members of the committee, according to him, are SEEDAN, RIFAN, NASC, NCRI, WASP, Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and First City Monumental Bank (FCMB). 


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