The government of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello in Niger state has been emphatic in its strategic plan to boost Agricultural activities, invariably enhanced productivity in the state thus using the sector to empower youths and women.
The governor recently stated that the government has a comparative advantage in the sector considering the fact that the state is endowed with arable land , the largest in the country as the state is cultivable for both cash and food crops as well for other forms of farming like livestock.
In view of this realization of the state potentials, the government has made its plan known to boost rice production and cushion the effect of the ban on the importation of rice while also boosting the production of other cereal and tuber crops in the state.
Notwithstanding the state seems not to have being enjoying the glory, the state is one of the states the federal government has mapped out to boost rice production but it is believed that the glory of the contribution of the state is not deservingly attributed .
It was the position of the Niger state government that some middle men visit the state and buy this products and repackaged them without attributing it to the state, which made the farmers not to get the gains of their contributions thus decided to take strategic steps to reverse the trend.
Consequently, it has began move to seek for a loan of N2.5 billion to purchase excess bumpers as a precautionary measure to check food scarcity and make the state take the glory of its buffer stocks hitherto left to intervening market forces.
In this direction , government will be able to monitor the market forces and plan for the farmers to get the glory of the effort in its buffer stock Programme that will encourage more production, .
The Commissioner of Agriculture Alhaji Kabiru Abbass disclosed to Journalists recently in Minna that the government will purchase the produce to ensure that the middlemen were not allowed to buy this products for storage which cause artificial scarcity and make throat cutting profits.
The commissioner stated that government will obtain a loan of N2.5 billion to purchase excess of the bumper harvest in the state from last farming season harvest of farmers for storage serving the dual purpose of checking the market forces that cause artificial scarcity and also enable the state to plan along such forces.
He stated that Niger state recorded a very bumper harvest this farming season and will not allow middlemen to capitalize on it to cause artificial scarcity of food items and increase in the prices of the commodity later in the year in their speculative strategy to cause inflation.
Abbas maintained that even the only rice mill in Bida will not be able to mill all the rice harvested from the Niger south axis in the farming season adding that some states are taking the glory of producing more rice than Niger state which in actual sense was not so.
He added that the state has adopted strategic approach to coordinate Agricultural activities in the state because the government was set to leverage on the potentials of Agricultural advantages in the state to boost production and key into the federal government agenda for the country in terms of agricultural production..
Already the state house of assembly has received t the executive correspondences sent by the Governor seeking for the resolutions of the House on the purchase of grains stating the detail of the terms of raising the N2.5 billion using the available credit openings of central Bank through the commercial banks.
He has requested for the consideration of the House on the Central Bank of Nigeria offer of commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme Facility of N2.5 Billion for the state, from Zenith Bank PLC, for the purpose of purchasing grains under its buffer stock Programme, with an interest rate of 9% per annum and monthly repayment of proceeds from the federation allocation committee (FAAC) remittances.
The request was subsequently approved by the House through voice vote when the Speaker ask for adoption on the matter and the Clerk of the House, Alh. Abdullahi Mohammed Kagara was later directed to transmit the House resolution on the request, in accordance with relevant section of the constitution to the Executive for further action.
Also to prepare for the next farming season and increase production the state has concluded arrangement for the purchase of 30,000metric tones of fertilizers at Federal government price of N5, 000 to the tune of N3 billion .
The Commissioner of Agriculture stated that the state government has put every arrangement in motion to ensure that the farmers get the fertilizer as early this month as a way to curtail all encumbrances usually encounter by farmers every farming season.
Abbass stated that the distribution process will be handled by extension service workers who know the farmers in order to ensure that the products get to the farmers devoid of any political subjugation as always witnessed in the past that the experts were not allowed to do their job.
He noted that the 30,000 metric tones was more than 15000 or less metric tones purchased in the state at previous farming seasons, an indication that the government was ready to support the farmers full time