Lagos – Nigeria can become Africa’s largest rice producer by 2012 if the Federal Government can give rice farmers the necessary assistance, Alhaji Abubakar Wogi, has said.
Wogi, who is the National President of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), made the remark in an interview in Lagos on Sunday.
He said that with government’s assistance, Nigeria could produce enough rice for the continent.
“Available statistics have shown that Nigeria has over 4.6 million hectares of land suitable for rice production.
“We also have the technical and human resources to produce for other African countries, but we are not making use of these resources because we prefer to be importing rice,” he said.
Wogi said the association had since 2002 been making proposals to government on the need for government to facilitate their operations.
He said that rather than deal directly with rice farmers, government officials were dealing with contact farmers who had no farmlands.
Wogi said it had become impossible for members to access government loans and fertilisers because of shady deals between civil servants and selected contact farmers.
He urged the government to evolve a policy that would create an enabling environment for members of the association to boost rice production for domestic consumption and for export.
Wogi advised government officials and banks to desist from identifying with politicians who claimed to be farmers “if the country is to achieve its target in rice production’’. (NAN)
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Nigeria can produce enough rice for Africa if….. RIFAN president