BY FRANCIS OKOYE, Maiduguri –
Despite its ability to produce four million tonnes of rice and cultivation of one million hectares in a year, the road to Zabarmari Community in Jere local government area of Borno State has remained a shadow of itself.
According to the indigenes who are mostly rice farmers, apart from poor road network and absence of other basic amenities begging for government’s attention, the community with the population of over 300, 000 settlers also want government to assist the rice farmers with modern farm tools.
Government’s intervention through the rehabilitation of the road linking Zabarmari to Maiduguri, the capital city of Borno State, as well as loans to the farmers , the indigenes said will increase production of rice that can feed the north east and by extension , Nigerians.
Speaking yesterday in Maiduguri, the chairman Zabarmari Rice Processing and Farmers Association, and an indigene of Zabarmari, Hassan Mohammed, appealed to the federal government to replicate what it has done in Kebbi to Borno through the provision of irrigation dams to improve rice production in the state.
He added that potential in Zabarmari rice if harnessed by the federal government, Borno will join Kebbi, Ebonyi and Lagos States in the production of rice that will be sufficient for not only Nigeria, but Africa, in addition to creation of Jobs to the teeming Youth.
“One of our major problem in Zabarmari is access road. Sometimes it takes us over two days to take our finished rice to Maiduguri because of the poor nature of Zabarmari to Maiduguri road .We usually use carts to push our goods to the selling points because none of the road there is motorable.
“We are also faced with challenges of modern farm tools such as tractors, combine harvesters , rice processing machines among others. If government can come to our aid with these needs in addition to rehabilitation of our roads, Borno will experience revolution on rice farming,” Mohammed said.
In the same vain, the coordinator for Borno Youth Emancipation For Good Governance and Peace Initiative, Comrade Frank Okolobi, wondered why a community with such potential is abandoned by government in a state that is faced with food challenges as a result of insurgency.
He appealed to both the state and federal government to as a matter of urgency look into the challenges facing Zabarmari rice farmers so as to boost the government’s programme of diversification of the economy through Agriculture.
“ If government can spend billions on other projects, it can as well rehabilitate the 7km road linking Zabarmari to Maiduguri as well as provision of farm tools to the rice farmers for bumper harvest,” Okolobi said.
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