Kebbi: Government’s efforts ended in disappointment
• Govt Says Target Was Met
Despite the much-hyped success recorded by the Kebbi State government, with its collaboration with the Lagos State government, which led to the birth of LAKE Rice, rice production in Kebbi in 2016, has been described as a disappointment.
While Lagos sold a bag at N12, 000 subsidised rate, in Kebbi, and even Labanna rice mill, where the rice were packaged, a bag sold for N16, 000, this was attributed to the failure of the N15b Anchor Borrowers programme, a partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the state.
The programme launched in 2014 was flagged off in Zauro, with the aim of producing over 10 metric tonnes of rice, by empowering farmers on dry season farming was said to have ended.
This was linked to failure to follow due process in allocating the loans to real rice farmers, which jeopardised plans to achieve the 10 metric tonnes of rice target
Secretary of the state chapter of Nigeria Farmers Association, Alhaji Idris expressed dismay over the marginalisation of the union in the loan sharing formula by government and at the same time, expecting them to produce rice at all cost.
The Guardian also learnt that the success of the programme was also hampered due to failure of beneficiaries of the loan to pay back, forcing government to involve security agents to arrest the loan defaulters.
As confirmation, the chief press secretary to the deputy governor, Nora Bena, in a statement, requested rice farmers who benefitted from the loan facility to pay back either in cash or with rice.
Investigations further revealed that some local farmers who collected the loan were given meager sum, while politicians hijacked the whole process without producing rice. Some collected the money for personal use.
One of the aggrieved farmers, Alhaji Hussain, a resident of Arugungu said he was only given N40, 000, without the water pumping machine (engine) and other items listed on the loan agreement.
When our correspondent visited markets, price of rice had risen beyond the reach of the masses. One of the dealers, Alhaji Ishaku lamented the exorbitant price, despite being a rice producing state.
“The price of a bag of Labanna rice, which we produce locally is higher than the foreign rice, so our leaders are not helping the country and the masses,” he lamented.
But the state commissioner of Agriculture, Alhaji Mohammed Dandiga, denied the allegations, noting that the state has produced more than the 10 metric tonnes promised, adding that Kebbi State government has achieved and recorded the best in term of rice production.