No fewer than 200,000 farmers now grow rice on over 400,000 hectares of land in Kebbi State, the state government has said.
The Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Bagudu, recently said that the number of farmers cultivating rice in state had continued to grow.
He also called for greater lending to those in the agriculture, stressing that if the Federal Government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation could spend billions of naira on petrol subsidy, it should be willing to spend massively on the development of agriculture in Nigeria.
The governor said it was gratifying to note that Kebbi State’s contribution to rice production in Nigeria had significantly helped the country in cutting down the massive importation of rice.
He noted that Nigeria’s rice import had dropped by over 90 per cent, adding that although much income was not generated by the state through rice production, many farmers of the commodity across the state had been financially empowered.
Bagudu said, “It is heart-warming for us to know that we are able to create wealth for rice farmers and that as a result of the production of rice in Kebbi, Nigeria has been able to reduce its importation of rice by over 90 per cent. This is good news and it shows that a lot of people in not just Kebbi State are now producing rice and very soon, we will start exporting the commodity.
“In Kebbi, there are farmers who are under the Central Bank of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers programme. We also have those who work for private companies. A large number of farmers numbering about 200,000 are into rice production in our state and they now cultivate on not less than 400,000 hectares of land across the state.”
Calling for greater investment in agriculture, Bagudu stated that N54bn was the total amount made available for the rice revolution programme by the CBN, while about N4tn was used by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria to save the banking sector some years back.
“So for the fact that N54bn was used for rice revolution and we have this kind of impact, you will agree with me that it is something commendable. It therefore means that we need massive investment in agriculture and greater lending should be channelled to this sector,” he said.
The governor added, “Countries that achieved food sufficiency spent decades supporting agriculture and subsidising inputs for farmers, among other forms of support. So, it is important we look for better ways to support this sector for the greater good of all.”
Earlier, the state’s Commissioner for Agriculture, Mohammed Dandiga, also said over 200,000 farmers were involved in the cultivation of rice across the 16 local government areas in Kebbi.
He said, “For us, this is something very important, considering the impact which it has on wealth creation for these farmers, particularly since the past two years.
“We are working hard to increase the participation of others who are interested in agriculture because we now have off-takers. Nigerian rice is now the preferred choice, unlike what it used to be in the past and this is because we now have standard rice mills in Kebbi and some other parts of the country.”