By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, RIFAN, yesterday, signed Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, to access water facilities across the country to upscale rice production.
RIFAN signing of the MoU with the Ministry was disclosed by the National President, RIFAN, Aminu Goronyo, who commended the Minister of Water Resources, Engr Suleiman Adamu, for the gesture.
According to him the Minister also described the move as a positive step towards the Presidential Initiative to make Nigeria rice hub in Africa, which will boost food security rapidly.
He (Goronyo) further stated that the minister made it known during the signing of the MoU that that government remains resolute to reposition and strengthen the River Basin Development Authorities in order to occupy strategic position as major economic nerve-centres in realizing government’s effort towards economic diversification.
He said: “The Federal Ministry of Water Resources has the capacity to speed up the economic diversification moves and that is why RIFAN Ministry is signing the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, which we are seeking the assistance of the Minister for the utilization of his Ministry’s 116 facilities which include 38 irrigation sites, 37 dams, and 41 water supply projects spread nationwide.
“The River Basin Authorities, include Anambra-Imo, Benin- Owena, Chad Basin, Cross River, Hadejia-Jama’are, Lower Benue and Lower Niger. Others are Niger Delta; Ogun – Osun; Sokoto – Rima; Upper Benue and Upper Niger Basin Authorities.
“The Minister promised to meet with the heads of all the affected RBDAs to work out the modalities for work to commence.
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“The irrigation scheme would help our members to produce rice three times in a year with bumper harvest. The approval would reposition and strengthen rice farmers to produce more rice that would make Nigeria become a major economic nerve-centre in rice production in line with government’s economic diversification policy.”
However, the RIFAN boss also urged the government to consider provision of complementary services, infrastructure, and institutions for greater impacts on production and well-being, which he said under the Anchor Borrower Scheme by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, it has become imperative to accompany the scheme as others under the rain fed by providing institutional support services and adequate farm inputs for his members.
“These include the facilitation of access to farm inputs such as fertilizer and herbicide that are of great importance to boost rice productivity and the availability of improvement of extension services to provide a source of information and training for the farmers”, he said.