By Shuaib Sadiq
The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Kaduna State chapter, has called for early provision of loans to its members to enhance rice production during the 2017 cropping season.
The Secretary of the association,Mr Ishaya Audu, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Kaduna.
Audu said that inadequate farm inputs, implements as well as loans had hampered rice production in the previous seasons in the state.
“Our farmers produce at a loss due to lack of access to fertilisers, agro-chemicals, high yield seeds and tractors as well as loan facilities to boost rice production,” Audu said.
He also said that members of the association did not participate in both the 2016 Federal and State Governments Anchor Borrower Programmes as it was late for wetland rice producers.
He said RIFAN members could not produce more than three tones of rice in a hectare in the previous years.
“With the number of rice farmers in the state, the production will yield higher if we get access to inputs needed to commence production early in the 2017 season,’’ Audu said.
He, however, said that the farmers were now ready to access the loan facility under the CBN Anchor borrowers programme with 7,000 members already registered.
“The implementation of the programme began in August 2016, and that time was late for wet season farmers to engage in rice production, but now we are ready,’’ he said.
The RIFAN secretary appealed to governments to partner with the private sector to establish milling centres in the state to process rice.
Audu said that there was no single rice milling centre in the state, thus making it difficult for farmers to process paddy rice in the area.
According to him, the farmers use local means to process their rice, thereby losing much of the commodity in the process.
“We have many farmers who can partner with the Kaduna State Government to establish milling centres.
“Milling centres would definitely encourage production, processing and marketing of rice in the state.
“They also create more skilled and unskilled jobs for youth and women if established,’’ the secretary said.