Rice Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Zaria Local Government chapter, said on Monday that it had withdrawn from the Federal Government’s RIFAN loan scheme due to alleged shady deals.
The Chairman, Malam Mohammed Lawal-Jibril, made the disclosure while addressing Journalists in Zaria, Kaduna State.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Federal Government, in collaboration with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), had introduced the RIFAN loan scheme to boost rice production and make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice production.
Lawal-Jibril said his members pulled out of the scheme because it was not designed to assist the poor farmers, instead, it was meant to enrich some few individuals outside the business.
The chairman lauded the efforts of the Federal Government and the (CBN) for initiating the scheme.
He, however, said the entire scheme was hijacked by some selfish individuals, who were now exploiting the opportunity to their advantage at the expense of genuine farmers.
“Fertiliser was sold at N5,500 government approved price; but why should rice farmers pay N8,500 for a bag?
“If it cannot be subsidised below N5,500 why not give it to us at government price.
“In a similar vein, the prices of sprayer, seeds, chemicals and all other tools are inflated. Apart from that, harrowing, planting and harvest per hectare were all inflated because it is going to done by somebody not the farmer himself.
“Therefore, RIFAN Zaria chapter is pulling out of this scheme because of some shady deals there; there are some regulations that are detrimental to farmers and farming business.
“We have carefully examined the scheme and realised that a farmer will eventually gain nothing at the end of the programme,” he said.
The chairman said that at the initial stage, they were told something different but when things unfolded, they saw something different from what they were told.
He recalled that when the RIFAN Chairman in Kaduna State, Alhaji Junaidu Zubairu-Birnin-Daji visited Zaria, he publicly admitted that the scheme had encountered some problems
Lawal-Jibril said the state chairman, however, pledged to bring sanity into the scheme with a view to correcting the scheme for the good of both individual farmer and the entire society.
He wondered how a farmer could benefit from a scheme where all the farming activities would be done by separate companies on his farmland?
He advised the Federal Government to urgently re-visit the scheme in order to make necessary corrections to enable the progrmme record the desired success.
When contacted, the RIFAN Chairman in Kaduna State, Alhaji Junaidu Zubairu-Birnin-Daji, debunked the allegation, saying that Zaria chapter needed to be given money instead of farming inputs.
“They are not real farmers, they want us to give them money not the inputs. If you are a real farmer and you are given the farming inputs, all you have to do is to go ahead and continue with the business.
“However, on the issue of harrowing, ploughing and ridging, this is where they should have emphasised because N10,000 is set aside for each of these per hectare.
“We arrived at this after estimating how much will be spent to cultivate a hectare of land,” he said.
On farmers benefits after the exercise, the chairman said it was expected that the water pump machines, sprayers and other tools would still be useful to the farmer because they were not to be refunded.