As part of effort to boost rice production in Niger State, north-central Nigeria, the Agricultural Graduates Association of Nigeria (AGAN) had started collecting names of its members interested in collecting bank loans for rice production. Alhaji Hussaini Iliyasu, the Chairman of the association said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had agreed to guarantee a N1.8 billion loan from commercial banks for the farmers under the Federal Government Rice Support Program.
“We have started collecting list of members who have access to at least one hectare of land,’’ Alhaji Hussaini Iliyasu, the Chairman of the association in the state, disclosed in Bida. “We are currently working with some commercial banks towards accessing the loan for our activities. We have reached 80% success with the banks. The loan will be used to finance `rice value chain investment project’ for the association’s 5,000 members to produce more than 50,000 tons of rice. We will also engage 100 private extension workers, generate 20,000 direct jobs as well as encourage interest among other stakeholders in the rice value chain,’’ he said.
The program would be managed by farmers’ cooperatives in eight rice producing local government areas (LGA) in the state. Meanwhile, Dr Maji Alhassan of the National Cereal Research Institute, Badeggi, Niger state has called for farmer education to boost production of the commodity. He said most of the local government areas in the state produced rice in commercial quantity.
A 100kg of local rice sells for N4, 500. Niger state rice farmers get patronage from all over Nigeria.