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AGRICULTURE

20,000 Bauchi rice farmers benefit from anchor borrower programme – RIFAN Chairman

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The Chairman, Bauchi Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Dr Yahaya Adamu, said at least 20,000 members had benefited from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrower Programme.

Adamu said this at the ongoing CBN Fair organised to promote financial stability and economic development in Bauchi state.

He said the beneficiaries got farm inputs under the CBN scheme as part of Federal Government’s empowerment programme for farmers in the country.

Adamu said that farmers in the state received inputs, including assorted fertilizers, pesticides, high yield seeds and training on the best methods of rice farming.

“With the anchor borrowers programme, rice farming has been encouraged to bridge the deficit in rice farming in the country.

“Rice farming received a boost across all the states in the country by supplying rice to millers in pyramids.

“Very soon rice farmers will begin to export rice to other countries of the world,” Adamu said.

The  RIFAN chairman said under the scheme, rice farmers in the state had migrated from subsistence farming to agribusiness through the rice value chain using large hectares of farmlands.

He commended the federal government for initiating the scheme to support not only RIFAN but all the farmers in the federation.

Mr Osita Nwanisobi, the CBN Fair Team Lead and Director, Corporate Communications, said the fair was to create awareness on promoting financial stability and economic development.

“CBN is building systems to ensure that the country is safe, sound and in line with the best possible financial practices.

“The Bank is ever ready to listen to the people of Nigeria in order to know how best to serve them.

“The aim is to improve the financial base of their businesses, particularly the small and medium-sized businesses,” Nwanisobi said.

He said that CBN was committed to developing financial interest in order to grow the country’s economy through the various intervention programmes.

He urged the participants to intimate the bank on the areas of the intervention that needed to be improved upon for effective service delivery.

Also, Mr Idris Haladu, the CBN Branch Controller, Bauchi, represented by Adamu Mele, Head of Banking, said the fair would provide opportunities for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to operate and access facilities.

He gave assurance that the CBN doors remained open for Nigerians, especially SMEs, to access existing interventions.

Report says  that participants at the fair included farmers, small business operators, government officials, traders and contractors, among others.

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AGRICULTURE

Alia flags off 2024 cropping season, distributes agricultural inputs to farmers

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By Titus Atondu, Makurdi

Benue State Governor, Rev. Fr. Dr. Hyacinth Alia, has flagged off the 2024 cropping season and distributed agricultural inputs to farmers in the state.

The ceremony took place at the headquarters of the state ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.

Governor Alia described agriculture as the backbone of the state economy and emphasised the need for collective responsibility to ensure the sector thrives.

“Today, we are not only distributing improved seedlings and fertilisers; we are planting the seeds of prosperity and self-sufficiency for our dear people,” he said.

The Governor encouraged young men and women to embrace agriculture, promising to make farming attractive and a viable means of wealth creation.

“Through various initiatives and support systems, we are ensuring that agriculture is seen not just as a profession, but as a gateway to economic empowerment and sustainability,” he stressed.

Governor Alia commended the Federal Government for donating 60 trucks of assorted fertilisers to the state and warned that the inputs are meant for registered genuine and verifiable farmers only.

He also announced that his administration has prioritised the agricultural sector as the lowest hanging fruit to catalyse growth and economic development of Benue State.

The Governor revealed that his administration has renewed strategic partnerships with development partners such as IFAD, RAAMP, and ACReSAL, which has opened up new opportunities for value addition and agro-processing, creating jobs and boosting the local economy.

“We have the resources to turn our agricultural sector into a powerhouse of production and innovation. As I often say, with agriculture, we are too rich to be poor. We have fertile lands, skilled farmers, and a government that is willing to invest heavily in the future of its people,” Governor Alia said.

The Governor enumerated some of the modest transformation recorded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security within his one year in office, including the resuscitation of the Benue State Swine and Crop Improvement Project.

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AGRICULTURE

Food scarcity: Southwest stakeholders urge for increased agricultural funding and enhanced security for farmers

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Nigerians in the South-West region have emphasised the need for increased agricultural funding and farmers’ security to boost farm produce cultivation and reduce food prices.

The respondents aired their views to improve the agricultural sector and boost food production in separate interviews with the News Agency in Ibadan on Tuesday.

They advised state governments to reduce the high cost of food items by sponsoring farmers in their various states to explore the opportunities of acquired lands and sustained farm settlements.

According to them, governors in the South-West have much to do in their various states to boost national agricultural development.

Mr Mustapha Badmus, advised state governments to invest in large-scale farming on acquired lands, farm settlements and virgin lands, especially along the Ibadan-Lagos expressway.

Badmus said, “With the blessing of arable land we have in the South-West, the states could put such lands to use to boost agricultural development and address food crises.

“Our farm settlements and farm extensions should be revived.

“Farm extension workers are not supposed to be in the office as their work is on the farm and in the rural areas, not in the secretariat.

“Although state governors roll out loans and bailouts to farmers, they should ensure the funds reach the actual farmers and not the so-called farmers who collect without utilising such loans for farming,” he said.

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AGRICULTURE

Farmers attribute rising food prices to insecurity and a shortage of farm inputs

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Some farmers in the FCT have attributed continuous rise in food prices to lingering insecurity, high cost of transportation and paucity of farm inputs.

However, the Federal Government says it is making conscious efforts to address escalating food inflation including the recent procurement and distribution of 58,500 metric tonnes of milled rice.

A market survey on some major staple foods at Orange Market Mararaba and Mararaba Main Market reveals astronomical hike in prices of all food items.

Some of the food items are rice, beans, cassava flour, corn flour, yam, gari, palm oil, potato, tomatoes and pepper.

A measure (mudu) of cassava flour initially sold for N300 in March now sells between N800 and N850, while corn flour now goes for between N1, 500 and N1, 800.

A mudu of beans initially sold for N1, 700 and N1, 800 between April and May has risen to N3, 000 or N3, 500 depending on the type.

A mudu of white garri initially sold between N500 and N600 is now N1, 200 while yellow gari has risen from N600 to N1400 respectively.

50kg of locally produced rice formerly sold for N60, 000 now goes for N73, 000 and N75, 000 depending on the brand while a mudu formerly sold for N1, 700 now sells  for N2, 200 or N2, 300.

A trash basket of onions initially sold between N1, 300 and N2, 000 in March is now N3, 000 and N3, 500.

Mrs Olabisi Ogedengbe, Coordinator, Smallholder Women Farmers of Nigeria (SWOFON) Gwagwalada Area Council, said that Nigerians should expect higher cost of food items in 2025.

She said that farmers found it difficult to go to farm for fear of being killed.

Ogedengbe, who frowned at the spate of security challenges particular in the FCT, said that at the moment, there were no farming activities in some parts of FCT due to high insecurity challenge.

“The cost of living in the country is on the high side due to hyper-inflation making it near impossible for most families to eat two square meals a day.

“Insecurity challenge is the major factor responsible for hike in food items, and if nothing is done to address this situation next year, food crisis will be worst because at the moment farmers are afraid to go to farm.

“Most times, we go to farm in clusters.

“This issue is not always taking serious each time we talk about it and is affecting farmers seriously.

“Previously, l did my work peacefully without fear of being killed or kidnapped but now, it is impossible because there is the possibility of being killed or kidnapped

“Another challenge is late supply of farm inputs such as seedlings, fertiliser among others; we do not get input on time from the government at a subsidised rate,” she said.

Ogedengbe, therefore, called on the FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike to prioritise the security of farmers and residents to ensure availability, affordability and sufficient food items.

Similarly, Mrs Comfort Sunday, FCT Coordinator, SWOFON, said the current year’s farming season would determine how food security would be next year.

According to her, considering the level of farming and the timing, food security is not guaranteed except government intervenes through dry season farming.

She appealed to government to invest in all round farming through the provision of sophisticated pumping machines for irrigation to farmers.

Sunday said the gesture would bridge the gap in food production and ensure drastic reduction in cost of food stuffs.

Mrs Margaret Mandu, blamed the high cost on transportation, insecurity and the principle of demand and supply.

Mr Alli Sani, an onions seller at the Orange Market, attributed the hike to scarcity of the products.

Mrs Tope Akande, a mother of three, said her family no longer ate beans because of the cost.

According to her, she prefers spending N3, 500 for two and half mudu of rice than spending it on one mudu of beans

25 litres of palm oil formerly sold at between N28, 000 and N30, 000 between March and April now goes for between N33, 000 and N35, 000 while 75cl bottle is now N1, 000 as against N900.

Mr Musa Muhammed, a rice dealer, attributed the challenge to high cost of transportation as a result of increase in pump price of petroleum products.

Another dealer on rice, Mr Obinna John, said the price hike generally resulted from security challenges.

According to him, most farmers in Benue and eastern part of the country were denied access to their farms last year during farming season by arm bandits and kidnappers.

He said the challenges had resulted in low productivity from that axis.

Alhaji Bello Umar, a butcher, said buying of cow was quite challenging due to the spate of insecurity.

Umar said that initially the butchers went into the bush to buy cows from herders at cheaper rate.

He said, however, that at the moment, no butcher did that for fear of being kidnapped or killed.

“No matter how small a cow is, you cannot get it lower than N600, 000 couple with transportation; and the medium size is between N800, 000 and N1million while big size is between N1. 3 million and N1. 5million,’’ he said.

Mrs Rose Uchenna in Mararaba market said the hike in price had become unbearable to her family as they found it difficult to afford a meal daily.

She said she visited the market with the intention of buying rice and beans that could sustain them for two days but ended up buying a mudu of rice at the rate of N2,500.

Joy Amechi said a lot of people, due to high cost of living, were unable to eat a meal; some had developed ulcer while a lot had gone to early grave because they could not afford medical bill.

Nana Jubril appealed to President Bola Tinubu to rescue the masses by ensuring drastic reduction in the cost of food items to enable the masses to afford them.

Jubril specifically urged the president to lift the ban on importation of staple foods such as rice, beans among others to ensure food sufficiency and sustainability in the country.

Reports that a measure (mudu) of dry pepper now sells between N3, 100 and N3, 500 as against N2,200 and N2,500.

A medium basket of tomatoes now sells between N60,000 and N70,000 as against N15,000 and N25,000 while custard bucket of tomatoes formerly sold for N1,200 and N1,500 depending on quality is now N6,000.

Five tubers of medium size of white yam formerly sold between N2, 500 and N3, 000 is now N10, 000;  big size formerly sold for N5, 000 now goes for N15, 000 and N20, 000 while biggest size is now between N28, 000 and N30, 000 depending on the size.

A trash basket of potatoes now sells for between N3,000 and N3,500 while five pieces of small potatoes is sold for N1, 000.

A kilo of cow meat now sells for between N5, 000 and N6, 000 as against the initial price of N3, 000 and N3, 500.

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