The Chairman, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) in Kebbi, Alhaji Mohammed Sahabi-Augie on Sunday said the total rice output produced annually in the state has reached over four million tonnes.
Sahabi-Augie told some students on excursion at the Zauro Rice Pyramid near Birnin Kebbi, that the rise in production was as a result of massive support of the Federal Government and the state Governor, Atiku Bagudu.
The chairman said that the Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP) has greatly helped farmers in the state and across the country.
He said: “Rice production output had increased from 700 metric tonnes to over four million metric tonnes per annum in the state.
“Before now, more than 80 per cent of the rice we consume in Nigeria was imported from China, Thailand and other countries, despite the fact that we have enough land and enough farmers to produce rice internally for our consumption.
“This is the kind of setback our economy went through.
“Agriculture used to be the bedrock of our economy in Nigeria, unfortunately, previous governments didn’t have the political will like what we are witnessing in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.”
He also hailed Gov. Bagudu for being in the forefront of supporting farmers to overcome their challenges.
“We told him the challenges of fertilisers and other inputs to produce rice. He was devastated about our challenges and promised to give us all the necessary support.
“Most of the farmers involved are rural farmers who don’t have income, because rice farming is capital intensive.
“You need fertiliser, water pumping machines, insecticides and other agro chemicals for rice farming”.
Sahabi-Augie recalled that the Anchor Borrowers Programme was flagged off by President Muhammadu Buhari on Nov. 17, 2015 in Zauro, during which about 77,000 farmers in the state benefited.
“All the farmers were given inputs such as fertiliser, water pumps, agro chemical and seeds, as well as fuel for their water pumping machines.
“Before the anchor borrowers programme, our output in Kebbi state was just about 700 metric tons, but in the first year of implementing the programme, we recorded 1.4 million metric tons in the state.
“From that time on, our yields have been rising up the time that we are proudly producing four million metric tons per annum.”