Fresh knocks have engulfed the highly celebrated partnership between Rice Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) and the federal government due to fertilizer racketeering by officials and other factors.
Zaria Local Government chapter of the body, Malam Mohammed Lawal-Jibril, said on Monday that it had withdrawn from the Federal Government’s RIFAN loan scheme due to alleged shady deals including abuse of the fertilizer distribution platform.
At the inception of the ongoing economy diversification drive of the federal government, government, in collaboration with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), introduced the RIFAN loan scheme to boost rice production and make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice production.
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According to local government chairman of RIFAN, Malam Lawal-Jibril, 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.
Though he praised the efforts of the Federal Government and the CBN for initiating the scheme, however, the entire scheme was hijacked by some selfish individuals, who were now exploiting the opportunity to their advantage at the expense of genuine farmers.
According to him, “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.
Lawal-Jibril further 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
Continuing, he noted that 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.
However, Zaria RIFAN chairman wondered how a farmer could benefit from a scheme where all the farming activities would be done by separate companies on his farmland?
Accordingly, 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.