The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele has described the country’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) as a huge success as it has improved the fortunes of rural farmers as well as transforming agriculture into a potential for economic growth.
The apex bank’s boss stated this on Tuesday in Zauro, Kebbi State, while flag-off the 2020 wet season harvest aggregation and 2020 dry season input distribution under the CBN-Rice Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) Anchor Borrowers’ Programme. The event was part of the fifth anniversary of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).

Emefiele who noted that the ABP, an essential part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s drive for economic diversification, added that in the past five years, had the programme has been characterized with huge successes, learning points and challenges.

He stated that a total of 2,923,937 farmers cultivating 3,647,643 hectares across 21 commodities through 23 participating Financial Institutions had been financed in the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory from inception till date and disclosed that the CBN, under the 2020 wet season CBN-RIFAN partnership, financed 221,450 farmers for the cultivation of 221,450 hectares in 32 States.

Emefiele said- “The North-West zone with 85,261 farmers that cultivated 120,218 hectares represented 38.5% in total number of farmers and 54.3% in total number of hectares financed,” he disclosed, adding that the massive pyramids being launched in Kebbi were harvests from various fields across Kebbi State and a confirmation of the positive outlook of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.”

He emphasised the need for all stakeholders to sustain current efforts championed by the Bank to galvanize agricultural production towards meeting the requirements of Nigeria’s growing population, as according to him, Nigeria is naturally blessed to meet her food requirement and had no reason to continually repeat mistakes of the past of neglecting agriculture.

He said- “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 realization 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 own reserves now.”

The CBN Governor said that the partnership between the CBN, the Kebbi State Government and RIFAN was aimed at strategically complementing the Economic Sustainability Plan of the Buhari Administration; and that this was following the President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of the resuscitation of the Nigeria Commodity Exchange (NCX) and the commitment of N50b by the CBN and other Stakeholders.

He said a vibrant commodity exchange would enhance post-harvest handling, guarantee effective pricing for farmers, minimize the adverse effect of middle men and ultimately transfer the gains from primary production to other nodes of the value chain.

He acknowledged the importance of loan repayment to the sustainability of the programme and stressed that the CBN was constantly engaging the farmers to enhance their trust in the system, provide a competitive price arrangement and facilitate effective market linkages for their outputs.
According to him, to further create value and transfer these gains along the value chain, the CBN also maps miller to off-take the paddies and track the release of outputs to the market as the Bank strives to manage inflation and grow the rice value chain in Nigeria.

Emefiele expressed the hope that Nigeria has the capacity to achieve food self-sufficiency within the shortest time possible, adding that the CBN and RIFAN both target cultivation of 1million hectares of rice farms; which is over 350% increase from the 221,450 cultivated in 2020.

While speaking, the Kebbi State Governor, Sen. Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, commended the CBN Governor and his team for the novel initiatives. He noted that the moves had not only brought succour to the country in terms of food security and diversification but had also successfully made the country exit recession in two quick successions.

In the line, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, who doubles as the Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, commended the CBN for thinking outside the orthodox paradigm of growing GDP only.

The President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Alhaji Aminu Goronyo expressed gratitude to President Buhari for his vision that Nigeria must feed herself by producing what she eats and eating what she produces. .

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