As pressure mounts on the federal government to stop importation of rice by brazenly encouraging rice farming through the establishment of rice mills and mechanization of the farming process the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has promised give more support to rice farmers in the country through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
Making the pledge in Kebbi State while inspecting rice farms in Itane, Ketar Fulani and Gwadan Gwaji villages in Kebbi State, CBN governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele praised farmers for embracing farming as a business venture rather than mere subsistence.
Emefiele said the major objectives of ABP, which include assisting rural small holder farmers to grow from subsistence to commercial production level, increase capacity utilization, creating jobs, reduce poverty, and increase banks’ finance to agricultural sector, had been largely achieved.
He said the ABP was yielding result due to farmers’ access to the correct seedlings, pesticides and fertilizer as well as the support from the State government.
The CBN governor who was accompanied on the tour by the governor of Kebbi State, Senator Atiku Abubakar Bagudu and the representative of the minister of agriculture and rural development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, also expressed confidence that the target of ensuring that Nigeria feeds herself would be achieved.
He therefore called on the farmers in the state to always forward their challenges to the Bank and other authorities for quick solution, even as he assured them of the continued support of the CBN.
While noting that the refusal of some farmers to register for the Bank Verification Number (BVN) had militated against their getting access to the ABP facility, the CBN Governor urged all farmers in the country to register for their BVN.
He also assured that the ABP facility would be spread to many people as far as they got registered for the BVN, which he noted was on-going.
In his remarks, Bagudu, who is also the chairman of the National Task Force on Rice and Wheat, said the objective of the tour was to see how farmers and processors in the country were responding to the call by the federal government as well as the impact of funds provided under the ABP.
The governor attributed the bumper harvest recorded in all the 31 rice-producing states across the country to the federal government’s political motivation as well as intervention efforts of the CBN and the federal ministry of agriculture.
He said the goal of making Nigeria self-sufficient was on course adding that the state government was ready to provide paddies to millers on credit.
However, he urged the federal government to provide more silos in the state as many farmers were still holding paddies at their homes.
The governor commended the CBN for its intervention and assured the Bank that his government would continue to collaborate with the CBN to ensure the objectives of ABP are met.
Similarly, a director in the ministry of agriculture and rural development, Alhai Azeez Musibau Olumuyiwa, who represented Ogbe, assured of the ministry’s commitment to work with the CBN to ensure the success of the agricultural intervention programmes, in line with the federal government’s aspirations.
Responding, the chairman, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Kalgo local government chapter, Alhaji Aliyu Itane, denied the allegations that politicians were the ones benefitting from the programme.
He clarified that only genuine farmers, who were screened and met all the necessary requirements of accessing the ABP facility, were benefitting from the programme.