The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) Oyo chapter, has assured Nigerians of their commitment to boost rice production to reduce high cost of the commodity.
Mr Samuel Akande, the RIFAN Chairman, Oyo, gave the assurance in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Ibadan.
Akande said that the farmers’ target for years was to get quality rice to the table regularly and cheaper than it is presently.
He noted that the association encouraged members to engage in commercial farming of the commodity in good land size in order to achieve its goals.
“In Oyo state, it is not the nonavailability of farmers to plant rice, but the nonavailability of the enabling facilities.
“We are still hoping to know what the government may have for us in the area of land, land clearing and tractors, hitherto, it has been the sole responsibility of the farmers here,” he said.
Akande remarked that the RIFAN/CBN/Unity bank Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) had been the only sure hope for rice farmers in the state.
He said that all relevant inputs required by smallholder farmers were included in the ABP package, based on the assumed capacity of the farmer.
“All over Nigeria, rice pyramids are coming back on a serious note, RIFAN has been selling rice paddy to millers with the intention to bring the price of rice down.
“Farmers are really not feeling safe to work their full capacity to produce food on daily basis as they are being attacked and their rice farm grazed without hindrance.
“No land clearing equipment, irrigation systems are not being maintained where they are available.
“Another area of challenge is the flood/drought experiences which the farmers can’t control unless there is a well planned and managed irrigation system, small holder farmers cannot put this in place without government’s intervention.
“To boost rice production, what we, the farmers can do and which we have been doing is to recruit more people to plant rice and train them, with farmers on ground, any willing government will find it easy to identify and locate the right farmers to support,” he said.
According to him, RIFAN has been getting fertilisers, water pumps, hoses, sprayers, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, among others as input loans.
Akande said that to beat down the market price of rice, governments at the various levels needed to be make conscious efforts in that direction.
“Farmers can only produce for the market, our middlemen buy low and sell high so only the government has the wherewithal to fix the price at a desirable level.
“We also urge Nigerians to imbibe the culture of eating our locally produced foods to encourage continued existence of such a project.
“It is in continuing over a considerable long time that we can expect perfection,” he said. (NAN)