Rice locally produced in Sokoto State can feed the state conveniently and even be sold to neighbouring states, according to rice farmers in the state, who said they are generating a lot of resources for themselves from the proceeds of rice farming. One of the farmers who spoke to Daily Trust, Malam Abubakar Malami, said there are over 2,000 rice farmers in the state.
Abubakar, who said he has been into farming for over 20 years, said there are several varieties of local rice determined through their colour, size, taste and the duration of maturity before harvest.
The farmer said, “We have about seven different types of local rice grown here in the state depending on the rain pattern. Some rice varieties require heavy rain while others do not like much rainfall. Rice farming like most crop production requires certain things that must be done.
“When a farmer wants to go into rice farming on a farmland that has not been used for rice production before, he needs to get a tractor to work on the land first. It is advisable to sprinkle the seeds when the rain is about falling to avoid insects and birds eating them up before they germinate,” he said.
He said rice plantation requires fertilizer and constant monitoring by the farmer to avoid insects eating up the seeds, adding that some rice varieties take about 90 days to be harvested.
“Rice farming requires the provision of fertilizer. The fertilizer must be enough and should be applied according to specification. You can never get good yield from rice unless you apply the required fertilizer at the appropriate time. That is why I always say rice farming is not for a poor farmer who cannot afford enough fertilizer for his farm.
“That is the reason why you discover that rice farmers are always pleading with government for assistance. The rice farmers in Sokoto State alone can feed this state and even some other states if government can afford to assist the farmers with most of the necessary requirements. We need improved rice seeds. We need access to agricultural loan with friendly conditions and affordable interest rate. Provide us with enough fertilizer and other inputs in good time, our productivity will improve” he said.
Malam Abubakar Malami lamented that rather than assist farmers to improve their productivity, “Pen farmers and politicians who do not have anything to do with farming have diverted the funds meant for farmers to their businesses at the detriment of farmers.”
Chairman of rice sellers association in the state, Alhaji Umaru Kalambaina said the locally produced rice in the state is not being valued by consumers as they complained that it contains a lot of water when boiled, adding, “People do not like buying the rice produced in the state and when they eventually do, it is priced cheaply.”
“People prefer foreign rice. But even among those that buy and eat local rice, they avoid Sokoto rice. I understand Sokoto rice is not the product of improved rice seed and so they value it lower than other varieties of local rice. The farmers also say lack of enough fertilizer contribute to the low quality,” he said.
Head of information and Public Relations office of the state Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Shehu Goronyo said the state has been doing a lot for farmers in the state, adding that there is nothing the state government has not done to help them grow.
“Sokoto state government recently distributed N2bn zero interest loan to farmers in the state. Assorted farm implements that include tractors and other implements were publicly distributed to farmers in the state. Whenever government is selling subsidized fertilizer, we make sure that additional quantity is made available to rice farmers.
“The State government is doing a lot for them. I would like to admit that it is always not possible for government assistance to reach all the targeted beneficiaries due to some logistics reasons, but we are sure we have reached out to over 98 percent of them. It is also common for most people to complain no matter how much you’ve tried to satisfy them,” he said.