Government should consider loan waiver to affected farmers


Chairman, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) Kebbi State Chapter, Alhaji Muhammad Sahabi Augie speaks on the extent of devastation and what the government can do to ameliorate farmers’ pains.

 

How do you feel about this flood tragedy that has befallen Kebbi State farmers?

Well it is an act of God. Honestly our rice farmers have lost a lot; we have never experienced such devastation before. As the highest rice producing state in Nigeria, I think the quantum of rice we have lost will definitely have a very great impact on total rice output and demand in the country. It’s a very sad situation and I sympathise with all affected farmers.

Many have described this calamity as a great setback to Kebbi as a whole.

Without doubt, it is a great setback because the harvest is going to be almost zero across about 14 local government areas in the state. From Augue Local Government to Ingaski Local Government alone, the total distance is about 350 kilometers of rice fields all washed away. Although we still have some local government areas, where their rice farms were not affected by the flood, such as Yauri, Zuru, Sakaba and Danko–wasagu; the situation is grave nevertheless.

The biggest concern of the farmers now is how to access seedling towards dry season planting; what effort are you making towards this?

We have made our appeal to the government, so we are waiting for them to respond.

As an association, we have enlisted farmers who intend to go into dry season farming activities and sent it to the CBN. We are waiting for them to screen the list and get back to us. Thereafter, we will start giving them inputs like chemicals, fertilisers, water-pumps in the next 30 days.

What is your appeal to the federal government?

First thing is intervention for the farmers; if possible, let them set up grants for farmers. And if it is going to be a loan, let it be interest-free to farmers. I think the earlier the federal government come in, the better, so that the farmers can go back to the farms – because farmers are vital nation economy builders. I am also advocating for waivers for the farmers. If they can waive the loans to farmers, it will ease their suffering. Some of the farmers lost both homes and farmlands, so a waiver will go a long way in reducing their suffering.


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