Over 2,000 dry season rice farmers in Niger state have been given 50 kilogramme of improved rice seeds and three bags of fertilisers free of charge as a way of achieving self-sufficiency in rice production in the country.
The Federal Government subsidised the cost of three bags of fertilisers by 50% and gives a 50-kg bag of improved rice seeds free of charge to the farmers, while the Niger State government paid the balance of 50 % cost of the three bags of fertilisers.
The farm inputs were given out last week in Majin Gari, Lavun Local Government Area of Niger state by the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development Bukar Tijani and the Chief Servant of Niger State, Dr. Mu' ázu Babangida Aliyu, at the rolling out of agro-inputs to farmers for accelerated dry season rice production.
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development said the rice production programme in the dry season was initiated by the government in order to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production, curb the importation of foreign rice, and create jobs for farmers, rice millers and marketers in the country.
"The rice seeds given to you is of Caroline long grain which can compete favourably with the rice imported from anywhere in the world," Bukar Tijani said.
The Minister assured that the Federal Government will establish three additional rice processing mills in the state and added that Nigerians should be patriotic by growing, processing and consuming local rice instead of importing rice.
He praised the Niger State Governor for his commitment to the programme in particular and the promotion of agriculture in general.
In his speech, Dr. Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu said that Niger State was blessed with sufficient land and experienced farmers who could produce sufficient rice to feed the country and end its importation.
The Governor explained that his government subsidised the three bags of fertilisers for the 2, 000 farmers by 50% to encourage them to produce rice which they can sell and make money for themselves.
"We want lift as many of our people as possible out of poverty," he said and added that the recent report by National Bureau of Statistics which said Niger State has the least poverty ratio in its population is proof that the poverty alleviation measures of his government were effective.