…As Sanwo-Olu says: First line of Imota Rice Mill to be completed soon***
Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Kogi chapter on Thursday lamented that ‘political rice farmers’ have hijacked the Anchor Borrowers Scheme credit facilities, making loan recovery harder and output low.
Mrs Rabi Emaiku, chairperson of RIFAN in the state stated this while addressing newsmen in Lokoja.
Emaiku said the activities of these “political farmers’’ who were in the habit of reselling the inputs, were undermining the objective of the scheme at boosting rice production in the country.
Emaiku said the culprits who got enlisted and registered as farmers, but without farmlands had also made recovery of the loans given under the scheme as farm inputs very difficult.
“They sell the inputs lower than the cost at which they were given. They resell each pumping machine given to them at the cost of N39,000 for as low as between N10,000 and N12,000.
“Fertilizer given to them at N6,950 per bag they resell for between N2,500 and N3,500. It is annoying, because they will have to pay back the loans or others will not benefit.
“That is why the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Unity Bank, RIFAN and other stakeholders have resolved that a farmer will have to pay 20 per cent of the total value of the inputs approved for him to access the facilities,” she said.
She said N114.3 million was recovered in 2019 as repayment for the loans and remitted to CBN from farmers who were not affected by the flood that devastated the riverine areas and swept off farm crops in the previous year.
Emaiku, however, said that approval had been given for 9,708 rice farmers in the state to access the facilities in 2019, adding that distribution of inputs based on payment of the 20 per cent commitment, started two weeks ago.
According to her, the total package of the facilities per farmer amounts to N231,500, while those who found it too big can go for half.
She said in 2017, 731 farmers benefitted from the first RIFAN project in the state for dry season farming, while in 2018, 11,706 farmers benefitted from the same programme across the state.
In the meantime, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State on Thursday said there was expectation that the first line of the Imota Rice Mill would be completed before the end of the year. The Governor said this during an inspection tour of the mill in Ikorodu.
He highlighted that when finally completed, the mill would produce 2.8 million bags of 50kg rice per annum and also create some 1,000 to 1,500 jobs directly.
“We are hoping that before the end of the year, we will probably see the first line fully completed.
“It is a project that depicts our continuity in governance, and that is why we have taken the pains to come here and know the scope of work.
“On completion, it will be a 32 metric tonnes production capacity per hour rice mill,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu said the rice mill would probably meet about 15 per cent to 20 per cent of the national needs when it starts production.
“We have started conversation with neighbouring states under the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, that is, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo states, and then we can begin the growing of paddy rice.
“The mill, on commencement, will have 16 silos.
“We are studying the entire value chain and speaking to other stakeholders to ensure that this project, on completion, can begin to galvanise the objective of President Muhammadu Buhari on looking inwards to feed ourselves,” he said.
The governor commended the host community for their peaceful disposition toward the contractors handling the project.
He assured Ikorodu residents that contractors would be mobilised to begin work on the Igbogbo and Agric/Isawo Roads as soon as there was a break in rainfall.
“We are aware of the two major critical roads in the Ikorodu axis, the Igbogbo and Isawo/Agric Roads. When there is a break in the rainfall, the contractors will fully get back to site.
“We need to be tactical to avoid waste,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu appealed to people in the area to exercise patience, promising that the state government would not neglect any part of the state.
“We know how critical these roads are to you. I know how the roads were and also know how it is now. Please exercise patience.
“When the rain subsides, contractors will be fully mobilised to site and you will begin to see major improvements in Ikorodu,” he said.