As the effect of the world food crisis hits Nigeria, the Oloibri community in Bayelsa State has boasted that if given half of the money the country now spends on the importation of rice, farmers in the area would grow rice that would sustain the nation.
The Bayelsa swampy community which is one of the known food baskets of the state, apart from growing rice, is also recognized for its large scale cassava farming, yam production, fish farming and plantain.
Speaking to The Newswriter crew in Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa State, the regent of the community and executive member of Oloibiri Development Union, Chief Emmanuel Okpokiri, said that the community and indeed the entire local government area have the potential of growing the rice that Nigeria needed, should the facilities for the cultivation and processing be made available to them.
The Regent also spoke on the neglect of the area for long.
He said “Oloibiri is a very peaceful community. I am going to 59 years now and in the past there has not been any bloodshed, I think with that it is a peaceful community.
“Our main occupation is farming and fishing. We grow rice, plantain etc. The quality of our harvest depends on investment. Nobody has sponsored us, so we produce according to how much we invested. If you crop a plot of rice, give it adequate maintenance, you are going to harvest more rice. But with manual labour you cannot meet up. So the problem we have is that government has not intervened in the area of agriculture as expected and this is food producing area.
“If the govt will do it in the way the governor has been doing it, in place of agric in Oloibiri, I think the high cost of rice scarcity will be a thing of the past. Even as rice is very costly now it is still very cheap in our area because we do sell rice at a very cheaper rate and the type of rice we have here is even better than the ones you get outside with no nutrition value. So I believe that if local rice could be produced enough it will help the people very much.”
“Honestly”, chief Okpokiri went on, “if the federal government can invest half of what they are using to import rice, I promise you, we will give Nigeria the much needed rice.
“We have not got any support from anybody. We have placed demand on that, times without number. The fact is that when you will be invited for a meeting to discuss on farming issues and you go there, they will be demanding money from us. Those of us that are looking for money would be expected to pay in some money before you will be registered. At the end of the day the co-operative may not be able to raise that kind of money and that will end the discussion. We never collected any money or loan to support our intentions,” he lamented. ###
Senibo A. A. Cookey