The Dangote rice outgrowers farming scheme in Jigawa State has ran into difficulty, Daily Trust can report.

This followed long delays in the payment of the farmers involved in the scheme after their produce was bought off by the Dangote Group of companies at the end of harvesting seasons.

The scheme covers about 8,000 hectares of rice being grown by the local farmers.

The affected farmers, our reporter learnt, have started diverting their produce to alternative markets where they were paid on delivery.

The outgrowers alleged that their payments were at times delayed for about five months after their produce must have been supplied to the company.

Also contrary to the initial arrangement, in which the farmers said their produce would be bought at the prevailing market price, the company now fixed prices for them arbitrarily.

According to some of the outgrowers, for them to be able to remain in business, it was necessary to sell their produce at the open market where payment was guaranteed, rather than to wait for Dangote company.

One of the farmers, Malam Abdullahi, the Bulama of Waek, from Auyo Local Government Area, told Daily Trust that the long delay before the Dangote company pays for their produce was greatly eroding their interest and confidence in the scheme.

“Where it takes about five months for a local farmer to get his payment after he had supplied his produce, at next harvest such farmer will look for alternative market where he is not only sure of prompt payment but also stands a chance of negotiating for a better price,” Waek said.

He said at the beginning, the farmers were told that their produce would be purchased at the prevailing market price but during the harvest, the company instead fixed the price for the produce.

“The major impediment in the scheme is lack of prompt payment for their produce. It takes a local farmer about five months to get his money after his produce must have been collected. The company distributed the quantity of agro-input as promised but it was not enough and farmers had to use their money to get more elsewhere.

“The rice outgrowers’ scheme will collapse if delay in payment continues because farmers will stop supplying their produce to the company,” he said.

Another farmer, Mohammed Sani, from Gudito village said the Dangote Group of companies must improve on the payment to farmers, arguing that most farmers hired labour and bought other inputs on loan, pending when they receive payment for their supply.

He added that for the scheme to be sustainable, farmers must be carried along in determining the price of their commodity.

“When the scheme was launched last year, they were told that the price of their produce would be determined by market forces but at harvest, the company fixed N7,500 per bag for them as against N10,000 market price then,” he alleged.

Sani further expressed fear on the sustainability of the scheme if the company didn’t improve on early supply of agro-input to farmers. He said they planted for the rainfed season about a month ago, which ought to have been planted three months ago. He added that most farmers had to also use their money to buy fertilizer and pesticide ahead of the Dangote’s supply for timely application.

“Prompt payment matters a lot. We are peasant farmers; our lives hang on what we get from the sales of our farm produce. We hired labour on loan, we buy all the input to augment the company’s supply on credit.

“When farmers continue to experience delay in their payment, they can easily turn to other buyers. Also when agro-input don’t come at the right time, it will erode farmers’ confidence in the scheme,” he said.

Mohammed Usman, who is also taking part in the Dangote rice outgrower scheme, also complained of delay in payment as well as irregular supply of petrol for their water pump machines, which he said was affecting yield.

He argued that in order not to incur total loss on their produce, farmers must source for money for fuelling and that was an additional cost to them. He said if some of the basic problems could be addressed, the scheme was farmer friendly.

It could be recalled that the President of Dangote Group of companies, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, flagged off the rice outgrower scheme early last year in Hugo village of Kafin Hausa Local Government Area of the state.

He said, “Under the scheme, farmers are provided with training, inputs and a guaranteed price for their produce.”

All effort to speak to the spokesperson of Dangote Group, Ahmed Iya had failed. While speaking with him on phone recently he told this reporters that he was not in the country.  Further effort to reach him was not successful as the line was not connecting while a text message sent to him was not replied to up till the press time.

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