In recognition of the impacts of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) over the past five years, the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) and Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) unveiled “the world biggest rice pyramids” in Kebbi State on Tuesday.
The pyramids are a collection of nearly 100,000 bags of 70kg rice paddies harvested from various fields of Kebbi state’s farmers who have benefited from the ABP.
While leading the ceremony in Zauro, Kebbi State, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele revealed that the apex bank financed 21,450 farmers for the cultivation of 221,450 hectares in 32 states, through the 2020 wet season CBN-RIFAN partnership.
He said: “The North-West zone with 85,261 farmers that cultivated 120,218 hectares represented 38.5 percent in the total number of farmers and 54.3 percent in the total number of hectares financed”.
Known as the brainchild of the CBN, the ABP was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 to provide loans to farmers to boost production of agricultural commodities such as rice, “stabilize inputs supply to agro-processors and address the country’s negative balance of payments on food”.
Emefiele charged all stakeholders to take advantage of the apex bank’s initiatives to keep stimulating the production of agricultural commodities and, thereby meet the food requirements of the country’s rising population.
“The rhetoric around neglect of previous years will remain part of our history and the best time to correct those mistakes is now and every stakeholder must contribute their quota to guarantee the realisation of these national targets.
“COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns globally have shown that nations only export out of their reserves. Let us start building our reserves now,” he said.
From the inception of the ABP till date, CBN, in partnership with RIFAN and 23 other financial institutions, financed about 3 million farmers across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
According to the CBN governor, these farmers cultivated up to 3,647,642 hectares of land across 21 commodities.
During the event, the CBN boss also announced plans by the apex bank alongside other stakeholders to finance Nigeria’s commodity exchange markets with the sum of N50bn.
This initiative, he added, is geared towards boosting domestic food production and controlling prices of agricultural commodities in the country.
In his remarks, the RIFAN president, Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, commended the Buhari-led administration for his ongoing efforts to restore the agricultural sector and ensure self-sufficiency in food production.
He further stated that the rice paddies (piled up as the pyramids) will soon be taken to millers who will process and sell the rice at a “subsidised rate” for Nigerians.