Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria

CBN Governor outlines impacts of ABP on food security, wealth creation

*Besides being a tool for economic empowerment, job creation and wealth redistribution, Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has stimulated financial inclusion in rural communities in Nigeria ─Godwin Emefiele, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria

*Contrary to speculations by some that there’s no sufficient rice in Nigeria, the country currently has enough for local consumption and for export to other African countries, say rice farmers

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In underscoring how the agribusiness-oriented programme has revolutionised agricultural credit financing and remained the fulcrum of transformation initiatives in the sector in the country, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has enumerated the positive impacts of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), set up to finance smallholder farmers (SHFs).

It was learnt the CBN Governor Thursday, in Minna, Niger State capital, disclosed that the programme has transformed agricultural credit financing and remained the pivot of transformation initiatives in the sector in Nigeria.

On the occasion of the national flag-off of the 2020/2021 dry season rice farming and loan recovery drive, he noted that beyond being a tool for economic empowerment, job creation and wealth redistribution, the ABP has also stimulated financial inclusion in rural communities around the country.

The CBN and Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) jointly organised the programme.

Represented by Mr. Edward Adamu, Deputy Governor, Corporate Services at CBN, it was learnt Emefiele stated through the use of technology to boost productivity, the apex bank would work with farmers to achieve one million hectarage cultivation during the 2020 dry season, report said.

This projection is considered an improvement on the 500,000 hectarages in the preceding farming year.

The event, which witnessed the display of four massive rice pyramids, was reported to have proved critics wrong that the country currently lacks sufficient rice to feed its growing population.

According to the rice farmers, the country has sufficient commodity to feed its citizens and export to earn foreign exchange (Forex).

With the deployment of technology, which covers farmers’ enumeration, biometric capture and GPS mapping of farms, all embedded to enhance the operational efficiency of the ABP, the 2018 wet season witnessed a geometric rise in beneficiaries, Emefiele said.

According to him, about 275,000 farmers were empowered to cultivate 220,000 hectares across all the 36 States of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He further explained since the launch of the ABP by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, rice has remained the focal crop under the programme given its crucial role in the diet of average Nigerians.

He stressed with the current population of over 200 million, importation of any major food item will continually drain the country’s external reserves, export jobs to countries where these food items are produced, and distort the commodity value chains as Nigeria will not be able to guarantee the supply of raw materials for its agro-allied companies.

He described loan recovery as the hallmark of any credit process, adding that the combination of input distribution and loan recovery drive further demonstrated that the ABP remained a sustainable credit programme towards repositioning the sector.

He stated that the CBN has continued to enhance its risk mitigation strategies to guarantee the intended outcomes of the ABP.

According to him, beyond rice, the commodity association window has been expanded to cover more commodities, including maize, cassava, sorghum, soybean and ginger.

He said: “We are hopeful that all these efforts will contribute to our national aggregates and galvanise our drive to economic diversification.

“Despite the devastation caused by numerous floods in the 2018 wet season, farmers have been submitting produce and cash as part of their loan repayment but we need the association to intensify efforts in this regard in the spirit of the partnership and sustainability of the programme for the transformation of the sector.”

He added that the partnership with RIFAN under the Commodity Association Window of the ABP was a flagship programme to explore the potential inherent in agricultural commodity associations and position them strategically as drivers of enhanced agricultural productivity in the country.

The CBN Chief said linking the divisions to the innovative financing model under the ABP delivered quality inputs and mechanisation services to farmers at a competitive price and the right time.

From a modest pilot of 75,000 farmers in 26 states, the RIFAN-CBN ABP has now been fully established in all states of the federation, including the FCT, stated the CBN Governor.

Emefiele, however, noted the participation of other commodity associations did pose a leadership challenge to RIFAN to remain the lead association and role model for others in terms of members’ engagement and loan recovery in the sector.

Mr. Aminu Goronyo, President of RIFAN, however, told ThisDay at the event that contrary to speculations that there’s no sufficient rice in the country, Nigeria currently has enough for local consumption and for export to other African countries.

He said: “They say there is no rice in Nigeria but we that are farming knew there’s rice; enough rice in Nigeria and more than enough to export to other African countries.

“That is why we portray the Egyptian and Nigerian rice pyramids for all to see. The paddy that you see here is just a fraction of what we cultivated in Niger State.”

The success story in rice production is currently replicated in different parts of the country, Goronyo stated.

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