Chairman, Rice Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Kaduna State chapter, Alhaji Junaidu Zubairu-Birnin-Daji, has expressed optimism that rice farmers in the country were capable of ending rice importation.
Zubairu-Birnin-Daji made the remark in an interview with the News men in Zaria, Kaduna State.
He said: ‘‘with the introduction of loan to rice farmers by the Federal Government, we are not just going to stop rice importation into Nigeria but we have already put an end to it.
‘‘I want to assure you that Kaduna State is one of the largest rice producing states in Nigeria, especially Zazzau Emirate.
‘‘Igabi Local Government stand tall in terms of massive rice production in the state followed by Kajuru and Chukun Local Government Areas, then others follow,’’ he said.
The chairman said over 13,000 rice farmers have benefited from the Anchor Borrower programme introduced by the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Bank of Agriculture (BOA).
He gave assurance that the beneficiaries of the loan in the state would do everything possible to ensure success of the programme through massive production of the commodity.
‘‘It is our ultimate desire to make rice importation a thing of the past. We cannot continue to boost other people’s economy while our own continue to be in shambles.
‘‘As farmers, we must rise up to the challenges to boost the economy as well as our revenue base,’’ he said.
The chairman explained that the programme was designed in such a way that traditional rulers were involved by endorsing the application form before one gets the loan.
Zubairu-Birnin-Daji added that a beneficiary must also produce a guarantor who would also provide vital information on himself and attach his passport photograph in case the beneficiary defaulted.
The chairman said that N270, 000 was earmarked for each hectare of farmland, stressing that ‘‘a farmer would not be given the money but he would be given inputs that would assist him to do the farming business successfully.
‘‘A farmer is expected to be given water pumps, sprayers, fertilisers and chemicals, the number of each depends on the size of his farmland.
‘‘After the entire exercise, a farmer would have his water pump machines and sprayers saved to be used in the subsequent farming for five years.
‘‘In addition to that, when paying back the loan, a farmer is not paying cash but with rice harvested from his farm, so, if a farmer works hard, he would have some excess bags of rice after payment,’’ he said.
Also contributing, the State Vice-Chairman and Zonal Chairman in-charge of Zaria zone, Alhaji Hassan Tahir-Tanimu, expressed satisfaction with the loan disbursement exercise.
Tahir-Tanimu, who is also a traditional title holder of ‘Danmadamin Samaru,’ said: ‘‘we started this distribution exercise since last week and the work is going on well.
‘‘The distribution covered five local government areas of Sabongari, Soba, Kudan, Makarfi and Ikara.
‘‘Government had made provision for losses through insurance because government wants to make Nigeria sufficient in rice production,’’ he said.
He said a pilot scheme was launched in Kebbi State, now there were many big rice milling companies including; WACOM, LAVANIA and many others in the state.
He said the companies needed more rice to mill, therefore, farmers must cultivate more hectares of land to meet the huge demands of the companies.