A Rice Farm in Akwa Ibom State

The Akwa Ibom State chapter of RICE farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), has expressed disappointment over the running of the affairs of the Association by the national leadership of the association.

The association complained about the purported insensitivity to their complaints and sidelining of genuine farmers and the executives of the association in the state level.

They also complained about the inauguration of non-rice farmers who were not elected through due process as state executives. The state members of RIFAN complained that despite several efforts to make the national body understand that they (national executive) were being misled by people, who hijacked the project in the state they failed to heed their advice.

A’Ibom Farmers numbering over 3,000 across the state, has suffered a serious setback, last year, because of their inability to access the Federal Government fund required to clear their rice fields and transplant rice seeds from nurseries.

More Farmers at Rice farm in Akwa Ibom State

The angry farmers withdrew from the federal government scheme because they viewed the action of the national leadership of RIFAN as a deliberate act to sabotage Akwa Ibom from being among states making an impact in rice cultivation.

It’s inexplicable —Prof Ituen, acting chair Acting state chairman, RIFAN, Prof Etim Ituen of the Department of Agriculture, University of Uyo, who stood in for the indisposed state chairman, asserted.

“It is also baffling and amazing why this kind of corruption should come up when the Federal Government is waging war against corruption.

We understand this has not happened in any other state in Nigeria. It is the state chapter that elects their own executive. The headquarters does not come to impose Executive on the farmers.” “The election that led to the existing executive was duly advertised in the
media and all farmers came out to vote.

Akwa Ibom Long Grain Rice

It was witnessed by representatives of State and Federal Ministry of Agriculture, representatives of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, and executive of South-South RIFAN.

“We are saying that already, there is an existing executive of RIFAN that was duly elected in October 2013. That executive has been working and receiving inputs from the national RIFAN and distributing to farmers.

National leadership patronising non-rice farmers —Usua Coordinator, Ibiono Ibom Rice farmers, Mr Emmanuel Usua, said that Akwa Ibom state chapter of RIFAN decided to pass a vote of no confidence on the national executive for allowing non-rice farmers to deprive them, the real and well-recognized farmers in the state to benefit from the scheme.

He said, “The state government assisted us to clear the land we cultivated. As I am talking to you now, I am on my farm transplanting.

The real farmers are now working on their respective farms in different locations across the state such as Ikot Esen, Utit Ubio, Ibikpe- Uruan, Ikot Ebidang, Ini to mention a few through the assistance from the state government in collaboration with the local
government councils”.

Gov Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State

A rice farmer from Ikono local government area, who spoke to NDV, in confidence expressed disappointment that the real farmers, who are registered members of RIFAN had been neglected, while people who had never cultivated rice or owned rice farms were benefitting from the scheme and without anything to show for it.

“That was the same thing that happened to the Anchor Borrowers Scheme, which no fewer than 5,000 Akwa Ibom farmers were short-listed to benefit. Rice seeds worth millions of naira were wasted last year because of non-release of funds for land preparation”.