Some beneficiaries of the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) under the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) Special Project have commended the Federal Government for boosting dry season farming in Gombe.
The farmers gave the commendation at a news conference organised by RIFAN in Gombe on Thursday.
According to Mr Mohammed Gwani, the Chairman, RIFAN Special Project, Gombe state chapter, the group appreciates President Muhammadu Buhari’s timely intervention in the agriculture sector.
He said that since the Federal Government began the intervention in rice cultivation, there had been a lot of progress made, especially in dry season rice cultivation.
Gwani said that a lot of farmers were assisted free of charge during the dry season, adding that the assistance had increased the number of rice farmers.
He said dry season rice farmers were given free fertilisers, agro-chemicals and improved seedlings to cultivate and ensure payment with seven bags of paddy per hectare after harvest.
The chairman said the story of rice cultivation had gradually changed with the initiative from the Federal Government and had brought back what he called the era of rice pyramid after a long time.
“We have nothing to say than to appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari for making his administration farmers’ administration. May God bless him for assisting poor farmers,” he said.
Alhaji Musa Arab, the Technical Adviser to Gwani, also said that the impact of the intervention had been huge on benefitting communities of the Federal Government’s Special Project on rice cultivation.
Arab said that with the project, more than 102, 000 bags of rice paddy (a field planted with rice growing in water) had been recovered from its farmers as loan repayment.
Arab, who said that these were sold to rice millers at subsidised rates, added that the intervention by the government had impacted the whole value chain as more farmers were being assisted to cultivate rice on large scale during dry and wet seasons.
He said that the paddies were being sold to millers across the state “at fair prices so that they can also sell at good prices to ensure that the price of rice drops in the market’’.
Arab said that with the assistance, more than 15, 000 hectares were being cultivated and more farmers had indicated interest ahead of the dry season to sustain the success story and ensure rice sufficiency in Nigeria.
Shagari Adamu, the head of cluster of rice farmers from Kumo Community, also appealed to the government to increase funds to rice farmers under the RIFAN special project to boost effort at ensuring rice sufficiency in Nigeria.
Adamu said if with just about 15, 000 farmers more than 100,000 bags of paddy were mopped up and sold to millers, with more benefitting farmers, millers would have no challenge in getting paddies all year round.