The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 flagged-off its multi-billion-naira 2019 dry season rice farming.
RIFAN President, Aminu Goroyo, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) during the flag-off in Abuja that the project was executed under the Central Bank on Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).
The president, however, said that the association was working out the fund modalities with the bank.
He said that the planting would commence simultaneously in the 774 local government areas of the 36 states of the federation and FCT.
Goroyo said that each state and the FCT would commence distribution of high breed seeds and farm inputs to over 700,000 participating farmers that were expected to cultivate 570,000 hectares of land.
“To this end, for easy cultivation and good harvesting, 52 registered input suppliers, 20 service providers and 450 private extension officers will be involved.
“The programme, being a technology-driven process, will ensure that all aspects of the farming are involved.
“This 2019 dry season farming is in strict compliance with the use of only irrigable land with adequate irrigation facilities under the supervision of extension agents.”
Goroyo said that the CBN had expressed its willingness to continue to give necessary assistance to RIFAN because of its success story in rice production.
He said that most farmers are enthusiastic about the dry season farming because they were sure of high yields.
Goroyo stressed that the federal government decision to ban rice importation was another source of encouragement as it had started yielding the desired result.
“Nigerians are now consuming made in Nigeria rice, and aside that, the volume of rice smuggled into the country has reduced to 5 per cent and farmers are now getting dividends and value for their efforts,” he said.
The RIFAN president recalled that rice production in Nigeria has increased from 5.5 million tonnes in 2015 to 5.8 million tonnes by end of 2017.
He, therefore, challenged the beneficiaries not to default in their loan repayments because it would help to grow the economy.
“It has become a must to grow the nation’s economy and feed this country; the population is growing at a high proportion and when you pay back your loan, farmers will be on land to farm and feed.
The APB was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 17, 2015 to create a link between anchor companies involved in the processing and small holder farmers of the required key agricultural commodities and address the country’s food deficit.