… Appeals for fresh loans for affected farmers
From: Babatunde Azeez, Abuja
Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) has called on the Federal Government to write-off loans of farmers affected by the 2018 flood and place greater priority on food security target.
National President of RIFAN, Alhaji Aminu Goroyo made the appeal at the ongoing 4th Nigeria Rice Investment Forum organised by NEPAD in Abuja.
Goroyo, who was represented by the Deputy National Secretary of the association, Alhaji Iliyasu Awodi also appealed to FG to provide fresh loans for the affected farmers in other to help them return to farm immediately and aid them pay back their debts.
His words: “In the alternative I wish to plead with the Federal Government to consider a write-off the farmers’ loans affected by the floods. No sacrifice is too big for this as food security should be number one priority of the Federal Government.
“We however solicit or appeal that a fresh loan be disbursed to the m during the next dry season to enable them return to farm immediately so that they can recoup their losses and pay the loans.
“There is no doubt that this 2018 floods have done a lot of damage to this year’s rice production, this has negatively affected over 365 farmers who are beneficiaries of the CBN anchor borrowers program for the 2018 dry and wet season cultivation. These categories of farmers now bear the Burden of loan repayment; haven lost most of their crops to flood and may not have the capacity to repay the loans.”
“I will like to appreciate the contributions of President Muhammadu Buhari, the indefatigable Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh and his minister of state, Heineken Lokpobiri, CBN governor and his staffs who have worked tirelessly to ensure this program comes to fruition and all the Governors of the different states that has supported us.” He added.
The RIFAN representative explained that the anchor borrowers’ project of the present administration has boosted rice production to more than 8 million metric tons by the last dry season cultivation.
He placed expected production capacity for 2018 raining season at 15 million metric tons, but stated that about 70 per cent of the cultivated rice were lost to the disastrous floods.
According to Goroyo, RIFAN which is arguably the most involved stakeholders in rice production in Nigeria had intended that by end of the year 2018, the nation would have attained self-sufficiency in rice production and feed neighbouring African countries, but this dream was cut short by the 2018 floods that wrecked havocs across the country.
Representative of NEPAD Business Group Africa, Dotun Ajayi urged FG to put in place land reform policies that will generate land tittle documents for lands in rural area and in turn give value to such land, for it to be acceptable as security for loans by commercial banks.
He also noted the need for the Government to take advantage of the 1.2 billion population market made available by consenting to the continental free trade area and positioning Nigerian businesses to be gainers in the deal.