In a bid to boost agriculture and food production in Rivers State, Total Exploration and Production Limited, operator of Oil Mining Lease 58, on Tuesday distributed truckloads of hybrid cassava stems to 400 farmers.
Sixteen communities hosting the oil field in the Obga/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of the state were beneficiaries of the agricultural development initiative of the oil firm.
Delivering the cassava stems to the farmers in Obite, the Deputy General Manager, Community Affairs and Development of the firm, Mr James Urho, said the scheme was as a result of Total’s commitment to boosting agricultural development in the state.
Urho, who was represented by the Business Development Manager of the company, Mr Patrick Idoko, said, “The decision by Total E and P Nigeria Limited to introduce this improved stems to farmers is to boost agricultural development as a viable and profitable business.
“This new stem has several advantages over the traditional cassava stem currently being used by farmers in Nigeria due to its super yield. Today’s ceremony is symbolic because we are officially handing over the improved cassava stems to 400 selected farmers from 16 Egi communities to plant and nurture them to maturity.
“We have plans to introduce a fully integrated cassava processing chain for the good people of Egi.”
He urged the beneficiaries to take advantage of the initiative, adding that there was profit in farming if the right techniques were applied.
He stated, “I, therefore, encourage all the beneficiaries of this project to make good use of the inputs to become successful cassava farmers.
“We think that there is no money in farming, because we are doing it the wrong way. We must go back to farming. Farmers live longer because they go to their farms and harvest organic fresh food and eat, which is like medicine to the body.”
The paramount ruler of the Egi clan, Charles Okikeih, who received the cassava stems on behalf of farmers in the community, begged the oil firm to also pick some exceptional farmers in the area and train them in modern farming techniques.
Okikeih stated, “We are very happy for this initiative by you (Total E and P Nigeria Limited). It shows that you are caring and responsive to our needs; you have tried, but we still want you to do more for our people.
“We want you to check among the farmers and pick those who are perfect in farming and train them more in modern agricultural techniques.”