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Rice farmers have started smiling to the bank, as early harvest of the produce begins in Katsina State, Daily Trust reports.It was gathered that in line with the federal government’s agricultural policy, many farmers in the state, concentrated in the cultivation of rice and maize to explore the opportunities therein as promised by the government. Some of the farmers interviewed by this reporter could not hide their joy over the high market price of the produce and their expectation for a bumperharvest this year.A large-scale cereals farmer in Dandume LGA, Alhaji Ya’u Unguwar Maigaiya, said he had spent over 35 years farming rice but that he had not benefitted as immensely from it in the last 10 years as he did this year.“Last year, I sold my rice at N5,600 per bag but this year, so far, I have sold about 100 bags at N11,000. We have abundant rainfall with no record of pest attack so far. That is why we are expecting a bumper harvest at the end of the season,” he said. He added that depending on the nature of the farming season and the crop variety, he cultivated about 400 bags of paddy rice yearly. Alhaji Ya’u commended both the federal and Katsina State governments for their efforts in making agriculture a lucrative venture, adding, however, that there was need for improvement in fertilizer distribution.“Government should improve in its sales of fertilizer, especially in the area of timing. The besttime to equip farmers with fertilizer and any otherinput is in the months of April and May but not in July or August when most of them have rounded up the use of fertilizer in their farms,” Alhaji Ya’u stated.Another rice farmer, Abdullahi Musa, 29, said for about 10 years, he had farmed about 70-100 bagsof rice yearly beside maize, sorghum and soya beans.“Local rice was not expensive in the past due to excessive inflow of the foreign variety. That was why the farmers were not making meaningful profit until this year that the federal government encouraged local production of rice. In the last two weeks I harvested 56 bags of paddy rice against the 48 the farm yielded last year,” said Abdullahi Musa.He added that if the trend was sustained, in no distant time, Nigeria would be one of the major exporters of rice in the world.He also warned farmers to desist from early sale of their entire farm produce.This reporter observed that the high market value of rice this year has forced some farmers to harvest their semi-ripe rice to sell at high rate of N10,000 to N12,000 as against N4,000 to N6,000 last year.Also with this year’s early harvest, the cost of a processed rice has reduced to between N26,000 and N28,000 from N32,000 in the last three weeks.
Daily Trust

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