The chairman Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Niger state chapter, Alhaji Mahmood El-Mahdiys has said the continuing reference to Kebbi and other states as the rice hub is a mere rhetoric.
Speaking with North Central Trust in Minna, Alhaji Mahmood said Niger has unbeaten record as the largest rice producing state, even as he challenged those with contrary opinion to come out with statistic and evidence to prove their assertion.
He said it was unfortunate that when reference were being made regarding states that are involved in the production of rice, Niger never made such list, pointing out that most of the paddy rice being in the country was from Niger.
Alhaji Mahmood observed that the apparent oversight was due to the failure of the state government to encourage the local processing which should have given birth to the state-owned brand of rice like the joint venture between Kebbi and Lagos states which brought LAKE rice.
“I don’t want to hold forth for anyone, but from what I have seen as RIFAN Chairman, I don’t see any incentive from the Niger State Government.
“That is the reason whenever President Muhammadu Buhari was talking of states that were producing rice in this country he would not mention Niger State.
“And it is not because of anything, it is because we gave away our birthright to somebody else like Kebbi State,” he noted.
He said the state has over 680,000 hectares of arable land that was suitable for rice production adding that manay farmers from Kebbi State come to Niger State to cultivate rice.
Alhaji Mahmood said the association has over 20,000 registered farmers in the state who are actively involved in rice production across two seasons every year.
He said Niger rice farmers were worst hit by flood last rainy season with over 15, 000 RIFAN members affected.
He urged the federal and state government to do more towards encouraging farmers, adding that Niger holds the prospect of feeding not just Nigeria but Africa.