The President of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Aminu Goronyo, has explained President Muhammadu Buhari efforts in the rice subsector.
He said on Monday that when this government took over, the country was achieving 1.5 to 2 metric ton per hectare, noting that today in the same place, the same farmer is getting between 5 to 8 metric tons per hectare.
“In 2015 precisely when the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (APB) was launched on 17th November, what we cultivate per annum is between 2.5 to 3 million metric ton maximum, but today Nigeria is producing between 8 to 11 million metric tons so you can see that there are many achievements. I will continue to mention so many achievement that we have achieved from 2015 to date.
“Before 2015, everybody knew that rice was imported into the country, every 12 months, about N300 billion is being exported as forex to foreign countries for rice importation alone but from that time till date, Mr President has refused the issuance of that so-called forex, which we call exportation of employment and wealth creations to foreign countries,” Alhaji Aminu said.
On next year’s target, he said: “Our plans for 2020/2021 season are already in the pipeline. God willing in 2020/2021 cropping season, we will be able to produce almost 16 million metric ton”.
The rice farmers national president stressed that about 80 to 90 percent of the rice we consume in Nigeria from 2015 is being grown locally, adding “so you can see there’s tremendous transformation”.
Goronyo describes the recent flood that wreaked havoc on over 450,000 hectares of rice farms across the north as a blessing in disguise.
“First of all, we don’t call flood a “disaster” because there are so many blessings in the flooding. What we are even trying to do now is to maximize the advantage of the flood this year. Instead of having one cropping season in one dry season, we plan to have two circles of cropping season in one single dry season because of the flood. This is because there are areas that before now they couldn’t cultivate rice because water had not been reaching those kind of areas, but because of this flood, now we are even considering those areas that they can quickly key into the dry season programme. So, we can start in November to do the first circle of dry season around the flood areas and by latest February we harvest and then we also venture into the second cropping of the same dry season.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria Governor has mandated and directed us at RIFAN that we must achieve one million farmers with minimum of one million hectares in the dry season programme,” he said.
The RIFAN president described as “Fake News” the story of smuggled rice now flooding Lagos, pointing that no border is open for smuggled rice because many nations were struggling to feed their citizens because of the pandemic.’’