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As Niger Targets Increase In Rice, Soya Beans Production



In this report, PAUL UWADIMA writes on efforts of the Niger State government to boost rice, soya beans production in line with federal government’s economic diversification drive.ndency.

Niger State is in the rice belt of Nigeria. The state has been a major producer of rice in the country. That not withstanding, the Niger State government led by Governor Abubakar Sani Bello was not satisfied and wanted the rice farmers to do more to increase rice production in the state. The state government’s position is in line with President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s diversification of the economy away from oil with the agricultural sector as the pivot of the diversification campaign.

In line with that determination, the state government last year said that it wants the farmers in the state to increase rice and soya beans.

Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State had said that the state would produce 53,109 tonnes of rice and 18,348 tonnes of soya beans last year.

He said this in Minna during the distribution of 100 motorcycles to agricultural extension workers under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s

Anchor Borrowers Programme. Bello said that the state was committed to transforming the state’s agricultural sector so as to create employment opportunities and food for the citizens.

“Encouraging farmers to go into increased rice and soya beans production will boost agricultural production in the state. “The CBN`s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has given farmers a true sense of belonging, while restoring their confidence in government policies,’’

he said. The governor said that the distributed motorcycles would enable the agricultural extension workers to have access to remote areas in their efforts to mobilise and educate farmers on modern methods of agriculture. Bello said that the extension workers would also be able to reach more remote communities to educate the farmers, boost their capacity and increase food production.

Alhaji Mohammed Ahmed, Chairman of the Anchor Borrower’s Programme in the state, disclosed that more than 34,000 farmers were registered under the scheme in 2016. He, however, said that only 15,000, out of the 34,000 registered farmers, had been cleared for participation in the scheme by the apex bank. He said that 318 trained extension workers were engaged to mobilise farmers to participate in the scheme in all the local government areas of the state.

Ahmed attributed the increase in agricultural production in 2016 to the hard work of the extension workers and the officers of farmers’ cooperative societies. Mohammed Alhaji, one of the beneficiaries of the motorcycles, thanked the state government for its support to farmers, adding that such support would go a long way to boost food production in the state. He promised to make judicious use of the motorcycle in his efforts to reach out to farmers in his domain, Bida Zone A.

Meanwhile, Niger State rice farmers produced beyond the target set for them by the state government as 1 million tonnes of rice are being expected from the cluster of rice farms from Niger State courtesy of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) initiated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this recently during the inspection of rice farms in Doko in Lavun local government area of Niger State. Mr Emefiele also disclosed that over 14,000 farmers in Niger State have benefited from the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, with about N2 billion already disbursed from the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund (MSMEDF).

Speaking further, he said that the enhanced funding for agriculture, through the ABP, was in line with the Bank’s resolve to achieve a strong and sustainable agriculture with integrated value chains.

In his remarks, Chief Ogbeh expressed President Muhammadu Buhari’s satisfaction and commended the farmers for contributing to efforts aimed at ensuring food security for the country.

The minister added that, given the increased rice production across the country, government would soon stop the importation of rice into Nigeria. LEADERSHIP recalls that the Agricultural Performance Survey (APS) for 2017 has rated Niger State as the leading producer of paddy rice in the country.

The report was produced by National Agricultural Extension and

Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in conjunction with Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs) and the Federal Department of Agricultural Extension.

It was presented early this year by Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri.

Providing highlights to the 2017 APS, Prof. Muhammed K. Othman, the Executive Director, NAERLS, noted some constraints to agricultural production in the year including, severe flooding.

Rice is the commonest food staple consumed in almost all households in the country. Niger produced 545,700 metric tonnes (MT) of rice to top the national production output for the 2017 wet season.

The total land area cultivated by the state for the period was 229,080 hectares. All the 36 states of the federation, including FCT, were assessed in the survey certified by National Technical Committee on Agricultural Statistics.

Kogi State followed with an output of 512,610 MT cultivated on 235,521 hectares.

Benue was in third position with a production volume of 486,620 MT.  Its cultivated area was 227,730 hectares. Kano (418,480 mt), Kebbi (411,490mt), Nasarawa (410,820mt), Kwara (408,250mt) and FCT (408,111mt) were rated 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th respectively.

According to the APS, the estimated cropped area for rice was 3.90 million hectares, which represented an increase of about 6.9 percent over the 3.17million hectares cultivated in 2016.

The survey said a total output of 8.02 million mt was produced in 2017 as against the 6.99 million mt recorded in 2016, showing a significant increase in output of about 14.7 per cent.

It also noted that all states recorded an increase in the production of the crop, with Lagos State having the highest increase of 30.5 percent. An average yield of 2.4 tonnes per hectares was recorded for the crop in 2017.

It was the first time the APS report will be made public since it

started producing the report in the last 29 years.

Lokpobiri said the survey would now be presented yearly to enable

Nigeria and global community plan their business, stressing the need for research institutes to publicise and commercialise their research findings.

In line with its determination to increase agricultural production,

Niger State government said recently that it would empower 1,000

youths with N1.5 billion set aside by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme in the state.

The state commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon. Haruna Nuhu Dukku disclosed this in Minna, the state capital shortly after the weekly state executive council meeting. He said the federal government initiated scheme targets to empower over 21,000 youth in farming of three mandated crops – Rice, Soya beans and Maize in the next six years in the 25 local government areas of the state.

To this end, the commissioner said 1,250 hectares of land has been cleared in five local government areas of the state to serve as pilot scheme for the project.

According to Dukku, “The federal government intervention through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was designed to empower youths across the country, with the sum of N1.5 billion set aside for each of the 36 states to engage the youths in farming.

“We have keyed into the project and we have cleared over 1,000

hectares of land in Rijau, Mokwa, Borgu, Tagwai and Gwada to kick start the scheme in the state while plans are rife to extend the scheme to the remaining 20 local government areas of the state.”

Under the scheme, each of the 1,000 youth is to be granted between N400,000 to N500,000 and allocated one hectare of land for the cultivation of any of the mandated crop while government will provide beneficiaries with improved seedlings and other inputs that will aid and improve farm yield.

He further said that government has already cleared the land to be allocated while it has also perfected arrangement with off takers of the farm produce in order to encourage the young farmers and ensure returns for their investment.