By Ginika Okoye
Abuja – The Nigeria Incentive Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has begun the distribution of agricultural inputs to 1,729 rice and maize farmers in Gombe State. A statement by Ms Anne Ihugba, the Head, Corporate Communications of NIRSAL in Abuja on Sunday, said the distribution was under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) for the 2018/2019 dry season farming. According to Ihugba, the beneficiaries are farmers in Kupto, Funakaye and Yamaltu Deba Local Government Areas (LGA) of the state, who had been empowered to cultivate rice and maize during the dry season under the ABP initiative. She said that 2,170 petrol water pumps, 123 tonnes of seeds, 6,152 litres of crop protection chemicals, 769 tonnes of fertiliser and 3,076 units of knapsack sprayers were distributed to the farmers. Ihugba said the water pumps would help the farmers irrigate their farms and mitigate the impact of the dry season experienced in the region. He quoted Mr Rabiu Haruna, the Representative of HABUCOM Farmers Group, beneficiaries of the ABP input distribution, as confirming the receipt of the inputs. ”We farm maize on 2,170 hectares of land and with NIRSAL’s assistance, we now have 2,170 water pumps, which means we have one water pump for each hectare. ”Before now, we did not have enough water pumps to irrigate our farms, we used to hire water pumps and many times the water pumps will break down, because we overworked them. ”With the certified improved seeds given to us by NIRSAL, we are expecting a bumper harvest of about 120 bags of rice from every two hectares cultivated,” Haruna said. He added that the farmers are grateful to NIRSAL, CBN and the Federal Government for improving their capacity. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that NIRSAL is also currently distributing inputs in Borno, Taraba and Adamawa. The programme, according to NIRSAL, seeks to address the pre-upstream challenges associated with the rice and maize value chains in the states.