Bauchi – The Federal Government said it distributed 44,163 bags of assorted fertiliser to 14,721 registered rice farmers in Bauchi State for the 2015 dry season farming.
Alhaji Mohammed Yusuf, a Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture in the state, told the newsmen in Bauchi that the gesture was to ensure food security in the country.
Yusuf said that each farmer received three 25kg bags of fertiliser, improved rice seeds and 2kg of agrolyser or 1litre of AG Zyme at subsidised rates.
“In addition to that, irrigation water pumps and rice reapers at subsidised rates were also distributed to the farmers.
“Redemption was exclusively through the e-wallet system under the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme,” he said.
The director added that the decision to continue the dry season farming programme this year was informed by the success recorded in 2013 and 2014 in selected states, including Bauchi.
According to Yusuf, a total of 4,374 farmers across the state benefited from the programme in 2013, while 11,000 registered farmers benefited last year.
“With more than 14, 000 farmers this year, we intend to triple last year’s production.
“One of the key mandates of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda is to achieve self-sufficiency and a complete stop to rice importation this year.
“It is hoped that this year, Nigeria will be able to totally depend on locally produced rice as well as develop the capacity to export,” he said.
Yusuf implored all registered farmers to collect the inputs and utilise them for the purpose they were provided to achieve the set goals of job creation, poverty reduction and food security.
He equally encouraged the farmers on early land preparation to ensure high yield.
The director commended the state government for providing all the needed support for the GES programme to succeed in the state.
Meanwhile, Dr Yahaya Adamu, the Chairman, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Bauchi State Chapter, said that marketing had remained the greatest challenge of farmers.
According to him, if this problem is not addressed, many farmers will dump dry season farming for lack of profit.
“Sale of the harvest remains our greatest challenge and the fall in the price of paddy has made the situation even worse.
“Last year a bag of paddy sold for N6, 500, this year the price has fallen to N4,200 a bag, this is very discouraging.
“As a result of the poor price, many farmers decided to keep their produce at home.
“The Federal Government promised to open paddy warehouse as well as establish rice mills in Bauchi to make it easier for farmers to dispose of their produce, but up to now nothing has been done.
“If steps are not taken to address this problem, many farmers will be discouraged from participating in this year’s exercise,” Adamu said.