The Central Bank of Nigeria said on Sunday that a total of N4.9billion has been provided as loans to rice farmers under its anchor borrower program.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele stated this while speaking during a tour of the farmlands in Kebbi state northern Nigeria cultivated under the intervention program of the apex bank.
The anchor borrower program is designed to create economic linkages between farmers and processors, not only to ensure increased agricultural output of rice and wheat, but also close the gap between production and consumption.
Under the programme, the CBN has set aside N40bn out of the N220bn Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund to be given to farmers at single digit interest rate of nine per cent per annum.
Under the scheme, smallholder farmers are entitled to loans ranging from N150,000 to N250,000 to assist them in procuring necessary agricultural inputs like seedlings, fertilizers, pesticides, among others, to help boost agricultural outputs and productivity.
Emefiele said through the intervention, a total of 78,581 farmers were mobilized in Kebbi State under the intitiaive, with a total of 570,000 direct jobs created in the process.
The farmers, according to him would be producing about one million metric tonnes of rice for the country this year.
The governor according to statement issued by the apex bank on Sunday described the current scarcity of foreign exchange confronting the country as a blessing in disguise as local production of various essential products are now being given top priority.
The statement reads in part, “The Governor stated that the success recorded by the rice farmers in Kebbi state has rekindled hope in the ability of Nigeria to be self-sufficient in rice and wheat production.
“He noted that with the sum of N210,000 granted to each farmer, they are able to cultivate a hectre of rice.
“He disclosed that a total of 78,581 farmers were mobilized in Kebbi state under the Anchor Borrowers Programme. The farmers are already looking forward to a total of one million metric tons rice this year.
“The CBN Governor stated that with the disbursement of N4.9bn as loans to the farmers, over N570,000 direct jobs have been created and saved.”
Apart from the number of jobs created, Emefiele stated that 70,871 rural farmers now own and operate bank accounts and are also captured under the Bank Verification Number biometric project.
The Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh according to the statement said that with Kebbi State alone targeting one million tons of rice out of the projected seven million tons required by the entire country, the country was on its way to self-sufficiency in rice production.
He commended the efforts of the CBN for its intervention in the agricultural sector adding that deliberate efforts are being put in place at opening up other rural areas for agricultural purposes.