Rice stakeholders in Kano State have disagreed over the capacity of farmers, availability of inputs and actual quantity of paddies produced in the state.
This came after the state government recently declared that local production had hit three million (3,000,000) metric tonnes, a mind-boggling figure that generated reactions and counter-reactions.
Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who spoke during an indigenous rice value chain promotion programme, which was organised by RIFAN and R-CONNECT in Kano, said that the increase in rice production was a result of the government’s agricultural policies aimed at improving farmers’ yield and capacity.
Similarly, the Rice Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Kano State chapter, claimed it has a membership figure of about 120,000 rice farmers. Farmers cultivating dry and wet seasons farming spread across the 484 wards in the 44 local government areas, including the metropolis.
The rice policy is also building tremendous capacity to produce and expanding the existing integrated milling plants. The processing capacity is said to have been equally expanded. About 5,000 small and medium-scale rice processors now operate in almost all the 44 local government areas of the state.
Chairman of RIFAN in Kano, Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar, said considering the number of its membership in the state, the 3 million metric tonnes of paddy production is not farfetched.
Besides, Abubakar said the Federal Government’s policies, through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrower scheme, largely strengthened farmers’ capacity to double their production.
“On the number of rice farmers in Kano now, we are counting about 120,000 and the government programmes, including the Anchor Borrowers’ scheme, Fadama projects and irrigation facilities. When you consider all these, that figure is not far from the truth. Again, when you check the rapid growth of rice processors, the way they are springing up, both small and medium-scale and the integrated mills, that should tell you that Kano can even double that number in a very short period,” he said.
“Another indicator is the closure of the borders where the foreign rice usually penetrates the country at the expense of the local production. That alone is a welcome development and blessing for rice farmers and Nigeria, because the policy has also encouraged farmers double their capacity and safe the economy. Before now, farmers will produce paddy and be looking for buyers. That system is old. The system is the other way round. Processors are already waiting for our paddy even at cultivation level”. Abubakar stressed.
Contrary to RIFAN’s submission, chairman of the Small and Medium-Scale Rice Processors Association in Kano, Abba Sumaila, said Kano had the potential to produce close to 3 million tonnes of paddies per annual, but the present production of farmers was below the government’s claims.
Sumaila, who revealed that whatever figure was brandished by the government about rice production level in Kano would rather amount to speculation, said, “There is no concrete effort by any concerned authority to collate or develop template that will give accurate capacity of rice production in Kano State.”
He equally disclosed that the small and medium-scale rice processors did source more than 70 per cent of their raw materials (paddies) outside the state.
“If you consider what each cluster produces per day, which is not more than 30 tonnes of finished products and you calculate it by the number of small and medium-scale plants in all our cluster areas, it is not possible to produce 3 million tonnes of paddies yearly. Besides, our members are still sourcing their paddies from Taraba, Plateau, Niger and Kebbi states. I can confidently say more than 70 per cent of our paddies are supplied by aggregators outside Kano.
“For instance, in areas that produced highest paddies in Kano, Tudun Wada, Kura, Gezawa, Bunkura and Garko, our members did not get more than 10 trucks of paddies and that gives you about 30 tonnes. With 30 tonnes, you can produce 1,500 metric tonnes of finished product per day. Other clusters produced less than that per day. Now, let us put it in perspectives. With 1,500 tonnes from five clusters and 1,500 from other clusters, you will be talking about 3,000 tonnes per day.
“Multiply 3,000 tonnes by 365 days. It givea 1,095,000 tonnes of finished rice in a year. Let us assume you get at least 50 per cent of finished products in a bag of paddies, that gives you 2,190,000 tonnes of paddies yearly. Still we don’t have 3 million as claimed by the government, and remember I told you we do source paddies from other parts of the country. So, if you ask me, I will say, that 3 million is more of projection,” Sumaila submitted.
Corroborating Sumaila’s explanation and figures, the Deputy Managing Director, Tiame Integrated Rice, Alhaji Aliyu Ali Ibrahim, who said Kano had what it takes in terms of the capacity to grow beyond its present production, doubted farmers’ ability to meet processors’ demand.
Although he applauded the Federal Government on its border policy, Alhaji Aliyu believed farmers would need to redouble their capacity through mechanisation to produce 3 million tonnes in Kano in the future with the commitment of state government.
“I will also say since 2019, when the borders were closed, farmers have produced more and millers have doubled capacity. For instance, at Tiame Rice, we have move from 320 metric tonnes production per day to 600 metric tonnes per day. The expansion was as a result of government policy, which is very commendable.
“And when you talk of Kano State farmers’ capacity to produce, I will say the potential is there. We have the fertile land and our farmers are hard-working, which means the possibility is there,” he added.
He too disclosed that processors scouted for paddies from aggregators who supplied from other states, saying, “What we get from Kano farms is less than 30 per cent of our supply, and now that we are expanding, we need more.”
Rice is a major staple in Nigeria consumed by all classes of the people. Nigeria consumes about 7.9 million metric tonnes of rice annually despite the country’s incapacity to meet its local consumption.
With vast suitable land suitable for rice cultivation, Nigeria hovered around a production figure of 4.2 million metric tonnes before the land borders were closed, depending heavily on especially smuggled foreign rice to argument the shortfall.
With the rice revolution policy, the Federal Government has resolved to boost local production to save the country from depleting its foreign exchange on rice importation. Besides, the policy is meant to catalyse employment creation through rice value chain and ensure food security.