The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, RIFAN, and Syngenta Nigeria Limited, an agro-allied company, have trained rice farmers on new techniques on improving yields through weed management.
The event with the theme ‘Syngenta-RIFAN Rice Weed Management Initiative Workshop,’ was held in Abuja on Thursday as one of the avenues of addressing the surging food crisis threatening the country.
This event is coming barely a week after the Federal Government, through the Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmed announced that the National Food Security Council meeting will be held soon to address the rising cost of food prices across the country.
The minister said, the council would meet “very quickly to address the issue of food inflation, and also provide a plan and some methods in which we can reduce the cost of food to support improved food prices for the citizenry.”
In his opening remarks at the workshop, President of RIFAN, Engr Aminu Goronyo, said the workshop is timely looking at the gloomy atmosphere hovering over the food ecosystem.
Mr Goronyo said Nigeria is not immune from the global food crisis, saying “due to deepening insecurity, Russian –Ukraine conflict, widespread food export bans by countries, as well as mortal threats facing the smallholder farmers in Nigeria.”
The workshop’s participants include RIFAN state executives and rice farmers drawn from 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja.
The workshop centered on the impact of weed management on yield increase on rice fields, herbicide application, and the best techniques of improving yield in the rice farms.
Country Representative of Syngenta Nigeria Limited, Abiola Olarewanju, said the workshop is Syngenta’s innovative partnership in deepening the knowledge base of farmers in addressing weeds which have been of their greatest threats.
“The essence is to teach farmers how to maximally utilize the appropriate chemicals needed to boost their yields,” Mr Olarewanju said.
On his part, the Technical Lead for Syngenta in Nigeria in Ghana, Emmanuel Akor said the objective of the workshop is to boost farmers’ capacity in improving the yield in their rice farms.
He said the Syngenta-RIFAN collaboration is to use the firm’s latest technology in tackling the problem of the majority of Nigeria farmers, particularly those engaged in rice farming which is the country’s staple food.
Mr Akor said, “since land is fixed and population is increasing, the surest way of safeguarding food security is devising ways of improving the yield in the rice fields. By this, the farmers would get more money and also feed the country. Syngenta has the technology to achieve this. And that is why we are here to train the farmers on it.”
One of the participants who spoke to this newspaper, Shehu Mu’azu, said the workshop was timely and value –loaded because “we have learned how to control weeds in our rice fields. Don’t forget that for decades, weed has been one of the biggest threats to rice farmers across the country.
“We have been taught the innovative techniques of surmounting that threat through this workshop.”