You must eat Nigerian rice, says RIFAN

• Niger state empowers 20,000 rice farmers with N1.8bn

THE South-West Zonal Coordinator, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Mr Segun Athoh recently disclosed that the association has launched the `Operation Produce More and Eat Nigerian Rice’ as part of efforts to boost local production and consumption, as Nigeria rice farmers had the dedication and ability to improve production.

Atho who also disclosed that the association was already clearing and preparing the lands in the Badagry area of the state, to grow rice for the 2016 season, stressed that their members are presently on the farm now doing land preparations to grow rice in Badagry, Lagos.

The Coordinator who advises Nigerians, to eat the rice produced in the country noted that it has become the association slogan, “Operation produce more and eat Nigerian rice”.
He emphasized that the farmers have the dedication, ability and discipline to achieve this, so that Nigeria can match other nations, shoulder to shoulder.

Oluyemi stressed that it is high time Nigerians changed their pattern of feeding; if we can grow rice, wheat, guinea corn and many others, there is nothing bad to eat our own, adding that nobody will query us for eating our local produce, reaffirming that Nigerians have to change their pattern and look inward.

The coordinator, however, urged the Federal Government to do more in terms of direct funding. Noting that it is time for everybody to have a sober reflection on the state of agriculture in the country as he encouraged Nigerians to start growing what we can eat.
He said the State government to undertake backward integration so that at the end of the day, there will be self-sufficiency in Lagos State, and the country at large.

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Oluyemi observed that with the little land in Lagos State, he believe, Lagosians can feed themselves, adding that if there are shortfalls, the government can get more to add to what we have as over 80 per cent of Nigerians are farmers across the nation.

The Project Coordinator of the organisation of an agricultural NGO, the Nisi Agro Alide Services, Mr Nnamdi Ifenkwe recently urged the Federal Government to invest in and provide high yield rice seedlings to farmers, to facilitate self-sufficiency in rice production in the country as this would enable farmers to meet the 2018 rice production target.

It should be noted that the Minister of Agriculture, Mr Audu Ogbeh, had said during the

“Eighth Tinubu Colloquium” held in Abuja, that the Federal Government planned to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production by the end of 2018.

Ifenkwe said that the government could achieve this rice sufficiency if emphasis was placed on supplying quality rice seeds to the various rice farmers association across the country, adding that it will also make the agriculture sector more business friendly so as to attract the right investors to the sector.

The Project Coordinator, who asked the government to induce rice production by more tax rebates and other incentives that will spur new investment in the rice programmes, added that more incentives will drive new investors into investing and building modern rice mills which can be located in areas close to rice farms.

He noted that farm inputs and other infrastructure must be provided to make the rice sufficiency project realizable and urged governments at all levels to also explore other channels that would make agriculture, especially rice farming attractive, adding that Government should invest in and diversify to avenues that will boost the sector.

In Minna, Twenty thousand rice farmers in Niger would be assisted with a N1.8 billion loan, under CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme within the next four years, Niger Coordinator of Agriculture Graduates Association of Nigeria (AGAN), Coordinator, MalamHussainiIliyasu, disclosed at a stakeholders’ meeting recently

The Rice Value Chain Investment Project Multi Stakeholders’ meeting was held between the State Ministry of Agriculture, IFAD, CBN and the association.

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Iliyasu, further disclosed that 150 agricultural agents would be employed for close monitoring of farmers under the scheme to ensure they pay back their loans as at when due, noting that the loan would cover the entire chain of the rice sector as different cooperatives were involved in these programme.

Iliyasu who said that the association had done a detailed study of the total package, consisting of inputs, technical support, and equipment and marketing strategies for the past three years, charged other relevant associations to collaborate with AGAN to avoid duplication of the programme and to ensure success of the entire programme.

The CBN representative, Mrs Margaret Sulaiman, in her remarks, tasked stakeholders to tap from the success story of the scheme recorded in Kebbi and Kano states‎ and urged farmers to be focused and committed to rice production, noting that this would go a long way in alleviating poverty among the teeming unemployed youths in the country.