By Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi
Sequel to recent protests against the resumption of importation of rice embarked upon by members of the Rice Farmers Association in Bauchi State, Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar on Sunday undertook assessment visits to some major rice farmlands under the Anchor Borrowers Rice Farmers Association and assured the farmers of governmentâ€™s commitment and continuous support to the successes of the programme.
Governor Abubakar while addressing the farmers after visiting farmlands with over 2,500 hectares of rice in Itas Gadau and Zaki Local Government Areas, said his administration had provided N400 million for the programme as a palliative measure for the farmers to continue with the cultivation that would have been hampered by the delay in the release of funds to associations by commercial banks.
The governor explained that the administration was compelled to take that action because of the failure of commercial banks to release the funds to the Anchor Borrowers in the state, but assured them that the problems encountered in accessing the funds from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)-supported scheme in the state are being addressed with the banks.
The governor commended the resilience and determination of the farmers, assuring them of his administrationâ€™s support, and charged the farmers not to relent, adding that Bauchi State would soon take the lead in rice production.
Abubakar lauded the efforts and performance of the farmers and their commitment to rice cultivation, saying with the continuous governments’ support, Nigeria which has abundant arable land suitable for rice cultivation in most states of the federation including Bauchi, would soon produce enough rice to feed the nation and be an exporter of the product to neighbouring countries.