Birnin Kebbi — This year's dry season rice farming in Kebbi State does not seem to be as profitable to farmers as last year's when many farmers in the state claimed they recorded bumper harvest and huge profit.
Their story is different this year as some of them are already lamenting huge losses they incurred due to poor harvest.
Some of the farmers who spoke to our correspondent said they were able to produce about 900 to 1000 bags of paddy during last year's rice harvest. They however, lamented that they could only produce about 50 to 100 bags of paddy during this year's harvest.
The farmers attributed their loss to the variety of rice seeds, poor weather, wind, flood, and lack of fertilizer as well as experience on the part of some of them among other challenges.
Alhaji Kabiru Sani Giant is one of the successful rice farmers at the River Niger valley in Bagudo area of the state with an expansive rice field of over 15 hectares. During last year's harvest he was able to produce 930 bags of paddy. However, he told our correspondent that after this year's harvest he only got 148 bags of paddy.
While speaking to our correspondent on the poor harvest he recorded this year, he said, "There are big differences between last year and this year's harvests. One of the reasons responsible for the poor harvest many of the farmers recorded this year is the fact that many of them are new in rice farming. They are ignorant of what they need to do to achieve high yield in rice production.
"I started planting my rice late February this year. However, it grew well and I was expecting about 800 to 900 bags of paddy. Unfortunately there was a terrible wind accompanied by heavy rainfall which caused flood in my farm for over one week. Because of this we could only harvest the little rice that was left in the farm. Many other farmers also suffered this fate. I know of those that can produce about 3,000 to 4,000 bags of paddy rice but were also affected by the flood. If not for the wind and flood that washed our rice away we could have produced more rice in Kebbi State than we produced last year."
According to him, after planting the rice, water became a problem to some people, saying it is expensive to maintain a rice farm during the dry season.
"From the day I started cultivating my rice farm to the day I harvested it I spent nothing less than N2.5 million on watering it. That does not include what I spent on labour during planting, removing of weeds, harvesting, trashing and bagging the rice. That amount was only for fueling the pumping machines. By the time I calculated the money I had spent I realized I had spent over N5 million.
"Unfortunately I lost everything to the wind and flood. I could only get 148 bags compared to the 930 bags I got after last year's harvest. More than nine hectares out of my 15 hectares of rice field was submerged and these are the areas we were expecting to have bumper harvest. Where we got the 148 bags was not more than three hectares. I don't want to go to government because I don't want to be seen as begging for money. It was my money I used for the farming to maintain myself and my family. If they want to assist us they can set up a committee to go to the farms and see the losses we suffered."
Another farmer, Aliyu Abdullahi, at Duku area of Birnin Kebbi, said he could only get two bags of rice from his three hectares of rice farm.
"It was a total loss for me. I spent over N1million cultivating the rice farm but I could only get two bags after harvesting it. I was not the only farmer that incurred losses many others suffered even more serious losses. Many of those who got 50 to 100 bags of rice last year could only get seven to eight bags this year. Unfortunately a bag of rice is currently sold at N6,000 to N7,000."
In the same vein, a farmer in Bunza area of the state, Saadu Muhammed, who said it was his first time to venture into dry season rice farming, said, "I cultivated one hectare of rice field. I expected to get about 100 bags of paddy after harvest but all I could get is eight bags. It was a complete loss for me," he lamented.