Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Abubakar Bagudu has appealed for increased public funding of agriculture and greater lending to farmers for the nation to achieve food sufficiency.
He gave this insight yesterday in Birnin Kebbi after a media tour of rice farms in Kebbi State in conjunction with Ministry of Information to flag off the start of the dry season planting year.
Bagudu said though the N54billion disbursed to 270,000 farmers in 36 states under the CBN Anchor Borrowersâ€™ Programme (ABP) triggered an unprecedented growth in agriculture and was partly responsible for the country’s exit from recession, the investment can barely cover the costs of inputs and other logistics challenges by farmers.
â€œFor example, the NNPC indicated that in the first two months of this year, fuel subsidy alone was about N180 billion, yet our lending to farmers across 36 states in two and half years under the borrowers scheme is just N54 billion.
â€œWe need massive investment in agriculture, countries that achieved food sufficiency spend decades supporting, subsidising and providing different agricultural producers support, â€œBagudu said.
The CBNâ€™s ABP was launched in Kebbi State in November 2015 with 70,000 farmers.
Bagudu said close to 150,000 farmers now participate under the state governmentâ€™s ABP with the CBN and NIRSAL, while an additional 80,000 farmers are under the private millers.
He said no less than under 400,000 hectares are under cultivation in the state. The governor said a projected output of 1.8million-2 million metric tonnes of rice by farmers, each producing minimum of 5- 6 tonnes per hectare is expected this year.
On his part, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the present administration’s agricultural revolution is not a mere propaganda but a reality, with enough evidence to back it up.
Mohammed said the fact that Nigeria has been able to cut down on rice importation from 644,000 metric tonnes to about 22,000 metric tonnes within two years was a clear demonstration that the agricultural revolution was working.
“The fact that the state today has grown from a meagre 2.5 metric tonnes of rice per hectare to as much as 10 or 11 metric tonnes from one hectare, I think it speaks louder than any propaganda you can think of,” he added.