Following the recent unveiling of rice pyramids in the country, many stakeholders have explained how government could raise more pyramids in the years to come.
The Chief Executive Officer, Wal-Wanne and Sons limited, Dr Abiso Kabir, who first unveiled rice pyramid in 2018, said despite the setback suffered in the hands of Boko Haram insurgents, he mobilised more than 18,000 farmers across the state through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bank of Agriculture ( BOA).
Dr Kabir said 33,000 bags of rice unveiled recently shows how much the government was doing in the agricultural sector.
But the farmer lamented that Boko Haram militants, drought and pests have combined to wreak havoc on farmlands in Borno State, leading to low output and huge losses to the farmers-something he called for collaborative efforts to tackle.
He said the government could do more than offering loans and setting up credit facilities by identifying and involving public-private-partnership with stakeholders of proven track records in formulating policies that will help the growth of the Nigerian rice sector.
“I believe this will encourage rice farmers and more pyramids will be unveiled for the country to become self-sufficient in rice production”, he said.
According to him, research institutes and universities also have a role to play. Academics that have been trained in agriculture can help farmers to learn more about the best, most cost effective and productive methods to improve their businesses.
The Wal-Wanne & Sons CEO further explained how he thinks the government can deploy resources to boost production capacity in the country.
“If Nigeria can cultivate 30 million hectares of rice, in a year, and with average five tons per hectare, we will have 30 million hectares multiplied by five, you have 150 million tons of paddy rice. If you add up such an amount and discount those at about 50 percent, you are going to be having 75 million tons of rice, the point is that we have the capacity to be food sufficient.
“I don’t think the whole of Nigeria has up to 200 thousand tractors, so we need to invest heavily in the deployment of machinery across the country for preparing rice beds for people to be interested in farming.’ he said.
Also speaking, another farmer, Aminu Yusuf, wants the country’s land tenure system to be revealed as it is a barrier to farmers’ success.
Mr Yusuf said Nigeria had not invested enough in training farmers, adding that there was a lack of knowledge about pesticides and herbicides application; postharvest rice handling and marketing issues.
“Mechanisation is rare. This is partly because it costs so much money, and partly because farmers tend to stubbornly stick to the old ways of doing things. The average Nigerian rice farmer depends on rudimentary and time-consuming crude tools like hoes, slashers, sickles, axes and rakes for various farm operations” he added.
On the challenges militating against rice production in the country, a farmer based in Nasarawa State, Nurudeen Ali, called for synergy between the state, local and federal government when it comes to harmonising relationships, the differences and the area of challenges that are being faced across these levels of governments.