Rice farmers in Plateau, which is the twelfth largest state of Nigeria, are optimistic of a bumper harvest this year, of at least one million tonnes. The Chairman of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RiFAN), Plateau chapter said, “This year’s harvest is plentiful; from what we have seen on ground, we expect nothing less than one million tonnes of rice in Plateau,” while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria. The RiFAN chairman attributed the feat to personal efforts of the farmers and the support from the state government. He lauded the efforts of the federal government to boost rice production and declared that rice production would triple in Plateau, when the Anchor Borrowers Scheme takes off.
The Anchor Borrowers Scheme, initiated by the Central Bank of Nigeria, which will be test-run in Plateau during the dry season farming. Total of 1,065 hectares of land across the state have been identified; the areas that are close to water because water is crucial to rice farming. The planting will commence in the first week of December, while harvest starts by March next year. According to him, the success of the pilot scheme will boost farmers’ morale and shore up interest in the scheme. The ban on import of rice would also encourage the local farmer.
The chairman opined that the pain of the consumer will ease, with the quantity of rice being harvested in many parts of the country, as the prices would drop considerably. He hoped that the price would remain at that level of N14000/50 kgs than the earlier price of N23000/50 kgs, so that farmers could get something reasonable for their efforts and be encouraged to cultivate more in coming years. However, there is a fear that middlemen might invade Plateau and mop up the rice at very cheap rates. “We have reported our fears to the state Ministry of Agriculture who briefed the governor and encouraged him to approve some measures.” He noted that rice could be kept for more than five years if properly stored, and advised farmers against hurried sales that could only perpetuate the circle of hardship and poverty that had been their lot over the years.