Niger State rice producers have appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to facilitate the release of inputs for the production of rice so that there is no delay in meeting the target of dry season farming in the state.
The plea by the farmers comes as Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) says through its National President, Alhaji Aminu Muhammed Goronyo, that with dry season farming, production of the staple food can rise to 10 million metric tonnes and meet the country’s consumption need of nearly eight million metric tonnes.
Coordinator of RIFAN/CBN Special Project, Alhaji Idris Usman, said Niger State has contributed a lot in terms of food production in Nigeria and appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure quick distribution of farm inputs as farmers are one month late already.
Niger State Governor Abubakar Sani Bello assured that the State will soon take its rightful place in leading the nation on rice production.
Sani Bello and the stakeholders spoke at the flagging off of the 2020/2021 Dry Season Rice Farming organised by the CBN in conjunction with RIFAN in Minna, the Niger State capital.
The Governor described the event as significant and a product of hardwork, and expressed delight that Niger State is gradually attracting national and international attention for taking the lead in driving the State’s enormous potentials in the agricultural value chain, particularly in rice production.
He said the State, being the largest in terms of land mass, will continue to take every opportunity to increase investment in the rice value chain, and promised to givethe needed support to all Federal Government initiatives towards increasing rice production in the state.
He encouraged farmers in the state to participate in the dry season rice production and all other dry season farming activities, especially since they lose most of their farm produce to floods during the rains.
According to the Governor, the state government will continue to accord priority attention to agriculture in order to guarantee availability of food in the state, adding that government will vigorously pursue mutually beneficial collaboration with RIFAN and development partners to enhance agricultural activities and promote value chain development of rice, cassava, maize, sorghum and other staple foods across the state.
This, he said, will improve the socio-economic status of farmers in the State.
He enumerated some efforts made by the government in the agriculture sector such as establishment of Green House Projects, reactivation of several irrigation schemes and Oil Palm Plantation Programme.
In his keynote address, the Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefele, said the flag-off is part of the agricultural revolution programmes of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, adding that it symbolises commitment to attain self-sufficiency in rice production.
Represented by the Deputy Governor, Corporate Services Mr Edward Lametek Adamu, the CBN Governor said the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme initiated by the Federal Government has proven to be a game-changer in the financing of small holders farmers in Nigeria because it has galvanised financial inclusion in rural communities beyond economic empowerment and job creation.
He said the partnership with RIFAN is to explore the potentials inherent in Agricultural Commodity Associations and position them strategically as drivers to enhanced Agricultural productivity in Nigeria.
The CBN Governor emphasized that loan recovery is the hallmark of any credit process hence the need for the association to intensify efforts in the loan repayment.
Goronyo appreciated the initiative of the CBN which he said is aimed at attaining food sufficiency in Nigeria.