Rice Farmers in Action
Rice farmers in Akwa Ibom State under the auspices of the Federal Government Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria RIFAN have lamented their neglect and abandonment by the Federal government saying their rice farms and rice seedlings are rotting away as a result.
The rice farmers said they have been abandoned by the federal government despite promised of support towards their rice cultivation scheme. The government had promised to give them funds to carry out the weeding and tilling of land as well as transplanting of the rice seedlings but has now reneged.
The farmers, numbering over 3000 expressed sadness over the attitude of the government, which they described as discouraging and disheartening. They revealed that they were introduced into the rice scheme under RIFAN in Abuja and embraced it wholeheartedly only to be left stranded.
The farmers said they were initially promised inputs and also financial support to enable them to transplant the nurseries to the rice fields but only some inputs such as fertilisers, chemicals, rice seeds and other inputs were given by RIFAN in Abuja.
However, the most important part of the rice planting process which is funds for the transplanting of the seedlings from nurseries to rice fields is not forthcoming.
Many of the participating rice farmers in the federal government rice scheme expressed disappointment with the nonchalant attitude of the government concerning the rice project.
Mr Usua, a member of the RIFAN rice scheme monitoring team in the state, also a rice farmer, lamented the neglect by the federal government and expressed fear that the seedlings and inputs already procured from the government will come to nothing if no funds are provided for the transplant of the rice seedlings.
“This nursery we have prepared since last month can cover up to 500 hectares when cultivated. But you can see that it is going to be wasted if we do not transplant them soon.
“They have given us the inputs but refused to release the money that will help us plant. If we do not plant the rice seeds we would be wasting over 1.5 tonnes of rice. That will not be encouraging to our farmers in Akwa Ibom State,” Usua lamented.
“The federal government promised to give us money for clearing and planting because due to our terrain ploughing and harrowing are done manually unlike in the north.
“We need the money to till the soil, weed the heavy grass and plant. Unfortunately, we have not been given the money to facilitate the planting. The inputs given to us by the federal government was a loan and if we don’t plant how can we harvest so as to refund the borrow funds to the federal government,” Laments one of the farmers.