RIFAN urges FG to sustain ban on rice importation to boost local production
The Kaduna State chapter of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) has appealed to Federal Government to maintain its ban on rice importation so as to boost local production.
The State Secretary of RIFAN, Mr Ishaya Audu, made the appeal in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Kaduna.
Audu urged the government to ignore calls from various quarters to lift the ban on rice importation through the country’s land borders, saying that the ban should be sustained to encourage rice farmers to increase their productivity.
“Our farmers produce at a loss due to their lack of access to fertilisers, agro-chemicals, high-yield seeds, tractors and loan facilities to expand rice production in the state.
“We were among those who encouraged the Federal Government’s ban on importation of rice, although we cannot meet up with the current demand for the commodity due to these challenges.
“We still insist that the ban be sustained while all these challenges are addressed. Certainly, we shall soon meet up our expectations in both rice production and processing,’’ he said.
Audu urged the federal and state governments to provide farmers with the necessary farm inputs and implements to boost their productivity and meet the increasing current demand for rice.
“We have about 150,000 rice farmers in the state, and we would have recorded greater harvests if not for the enormous challenges we are facing,’’ he said.
The RIFAN scribe said that lack of high-yield seeds and modern working tools had particularly affected rice farmers, thereby limiting their production capacity to only about three tonnes of rice per hectare.
“We appeal to the government at all levels to hasten the provision of tractors, power-tillers, planters, harvesters and threshers for farmers so as to boost their production.
“RIFAN members in the state did not participate in both the 2016 Anchor Borrowers Programme of the Federal Government because it was late for wetland rice production.
“The implementation of the programme began in August 2016 and that time was late for farmers to engage in rice production.
“Even at that, 7,000 of our members indicated interest in the programme but they were not given the loan. No member received loans from the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme or the scheme of the state government,’’ he said.
Audu recalled that in the 2008/2009 farming season, rice farmers in the state received N17 million from the N400 million credit facility which the Federal Government extended to the association, adding that the loan had been fully repaid.
He, however, urged the government to encourage the private sector to establish rice mills in the state.
He said that the dearth of rice mills in the state had made it difficult for farmers to process their produce, as they resorted to using manual labour for rice processing.
Audu said that the establishment of rice milling centres would reduce the time and labour which rice farmers hitherto used in the manual rice milling system.
“Rice milling centres will definitely encourage rice production, processing and marketing in the state; it will also create more jobs for the people, particularly youths and women,’’ he said.