NIGER State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello has said that adequate provision has been made to enable rice farmers in the state produce one million metric tonnes of rice by the end of this year’s dry season.
He said this just as the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh revealed federal government’s plan to provide irrigation equipment to rice farmers in the state to enable them meet the target.
The duo spoke during the inspection tour of rice farms at Danchitagi in Lavun Local Government area of the state under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme by the Minister, in conjuction with the Chairman Presidential Committee on Rice Paddy, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State and the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele.
Expressing his administration’s determination to ensure federal government’s policy of self —sustenance in rice production, governor Sani Bello said 90,000 square kilometres await cultivation in the state and stressed the need for a template on the technical specifications from the presidential committee.
He expressed satisfaction over the support from federal government and CBN, noting that the scheme had created jobs for the youths in the state but called on the government at the Centre to support the state with irrigation system for its dry season farming.
Also, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh who commended the commitment of government and farmers in the state to the realisation of federal government’s policy on rice, said that about N2 billion had been expended in the state through the CBN’s anchor borrowers programme.
He also promised the provision of irrigation facilities which include, solar power water pumping machines, small rice milling facilities, threshers and combine harvesters to ease rice processing and boost the economy.
He said 1,700 of the over 2,000 rice farmers from 57 cooperative societies that had benefited from the programme in the state were engaged in dry season farming while another 907 cotton farmers were to benefit from the scheme in the state.
Chief Ogbeh expressed optimism that the country would soon be self sufficient in rice and for export to neighbouring countries.
Similarly,the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, applauded the Niger state government and the cooperative societies for their zeal in cultivating over 30,000 hectares of land for the anchor borrowers programme.
He confirmed that N2 billion had been disbursed to 14,000 farmers in the state so far under the program.
He assured of speedy process of the scheme by considering the comparative advantage of Niger state in rice production, adding that the state is in competition with Kebbi state.
Also in his remarks, Kebbi State governor, Senator Atiku Badugu appreciated the effort of President Muhammadu Buhari for ensuring sustainable dry season farming in the country and actualizing the feeding of Nigerians by the citizenry themselves .
Meanwhile, the leader of the anchor scheme cooperatives, Mallam Ahmed Muhammadu expressed happiness over the CBN’s program but said that they were challenged with lack of irrigation equipment which if not provided would hinder the actualization of the dry season farming in the area.