Buhari launches Rice Farmers loan scheme set up by CBN

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Nigeria has launched an Anchor Borrowers Programme for rice and wheat farmers to advance their status from small holder farmers to commercial or large growers.

At the launch of the programme in Kebbi State on Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari expressed optimism that the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme had a potential of creating millions of jobs and lifting thousands of small holder farmers out of poverty.

Under the programme, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is setting aside 40 billion Naira out the 220 billion Naira Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund to be given to farmers at single digit interest rate of maximum nine per cent per annum.

President Buhari told the gathering of farmers and some Governors of rice and wheat producing states in Nigeria that the Federal Government would favour the programme because it squarely aligned with the government’s aspiration to achieve food security for Nigeria.

“The programme has been designed as a one-stop-solution for agricultural value chain by creating economic linkages between farmers and processors to not only ensure a clear agricultural output but to also reduce dependence on imported food.

“I am hopeful that the programme will be a way that small holder farmers are financed across the country.

“Rice is assumed as our major staple food in Nigeria.

“In 2014 total demand for rice was 6.1 million metric tonnes. Out of this number, 2.6 million metric tonnes was produced locally while the rest were imported.

“Nigeria has the resources to support the production of some agricultural crops, including rice,” the President stressed.

Further emphasising the need for Nigeria to move its economic mainstay away from crude oil reliance, President Buhari said that the current trend in the international oil market had called for an urgent need to diversify both the productive and revenue base of the oil-rich nation’s economy and conserve or foreign reserve by limiting the importation of goods that could be produce locally.

“The plummeted price of crude oil means that there are limited resources available to governments at all levels.

“Therefore the diversification of the economy is no longer an option for us as a nation. It is the only way to reclaim economic momentum and drive to prosperity. The only way to do this is to go back to the land and develop our agricultural production,” the President stated.

He, however, pointed out that while focusing on agriculture, there was the need to adopt improved varieties that would guaranty better yield, improved nutrition, better milling efficiency improve profit and improve standard of living for Nigerian farmers.

President Buhari promised that the government would provide much needed enabling environment, policies and incentives for private sector investments to unlock the potentials of Nigeria agriculture.

“In furtherance of our commitment to diversifying the Nigerian economy, the organised private sector is expected to invest in the sector either directly or through innovative techniques that will encourage backward innovation.

“Against this backdrop, youths will be attracted to the block businesses along the entire agricultural value chain – farm, storage, processing, financial services and logistics,” he told the gathering.

Fourteen states – Kebbi, Sokoto, Niger, Kaduna, Katsina, Jigawa, Kano, Zamfara, Admawa, Plateau, Lagos, Ogun, Cross-Rivers and Ebonyi – came together to push the programme, which the Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said would increase in agricultural productivity and farm income.

According to Mr Emefiele, the CBN had introduced the Anchor Borrowers Programme as a way of targeting the agriculture sector which he said had the potential of creating jobs on a mass scale, reducing poverty and boosting economic growth.

States in Nigeria have lands suitable for rice farming but they have not been entirely explored

Nigeria’s food bill is over one trillion Naira annually on importation of food items out of which rice and wheat are among the major four.

“The programme will advance the status of many small holder Farmers to commercial or large growers with attendant increase in agricultural productivity or farm income.

“The top four income commodities in Nigeria, which include Rice and wheat, consumes over one trillion Naira exchange annually.

“Relying heavily on food importation fuels domestic inflation, depletes foreign reserves and create unemployment in Nigeria,” Mr Emefiele explained.

He further said that under the programme, small holder farmers will be entitled to loans ranging from 150,000 Naira to 250,000 Naira to assist them in procuring necessary agricultural inputs such as seedlings, fertilisers, pesticides and other important inputs to help boost agricultural output and productivity.

“The anchor programme will link rice farmers with reputable millers for off take of every grain of paddy produced.”

According to him, the milling companies have adequate capacity, backed by installed state of the act processing equipment, to meet Nigeria’s rice requirements.

The programme implementation plan involves a three prone approach – Anchor Out-grower Support, Value Chain Training for Stakeholders and Risk Mitigation.

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