From Uche Usim, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, state governors, ministers, rice farmers and other players in the rice value chain have expressed joy that local production has increased from about 5.4 million metric tons in 2015 to over 9 million metric tons in 2021, under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
They also applauded the significant improvement in productivity per hectare of the smallholder farmer from about 2.4 metric tons per ha in 2015 to between about 5 metric tons per ha in 2021.
Speaking while unveiling the Abuja rice pyramid on Tuesday, the President noted that the production expansions have not only made Nigeria largest rice producer in Africa, but has also unlocked enormous private sector investment in the rice value chain as the number of Integrated Rice Mills grew astronomically from six in 2015 to over 50 in 2021; with many more at various stages of completion.
“The Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has so far supported over 4.8 million smallholder farmers across Nigeria for the production of 23 agricultural commodities, such as maize, rice, oil palm, cocoa, cotton, cassava, tomato, livestock, among others.
The ABP is working. Indeed, these sky-high pyramids for which we are gathered here to commission are part of our commitment at achieving national food security and economic diversification through home-grown policies targeted at securing food for all Nigerians.
“Before my administration launched the ABP, there were only 15 standard rice mills in Nigeria. As at today, we have over 50 standard and integrated rice mills in Nigeria, creating jobs and reducing unemployment in Nigeria. We expect additional significant output when the two new mills are established in Lagos and Katsina. I am also aware that, because of the large margins in this business, more people are showing interest in investing in our agribusiness.