From Uche Usim, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari will Tuesday unveil Africa’s largest rice pyramid in Abuja.
The programme rides on the huge success of the Anchor Borrowers’ Scheme (ABP), an initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in collaboration with rice farmers, processors, state governments, banks and other relevant stakeholders.
Dignitaries expected at the event include the Presidents of Benin Republic, Niger Republic, and Chad, as well as Governors of Cross River, Ebonyi, Kebbi, Jigawa, Ekiti, and Sokoto states.
The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) in a statement said it will leverage the occasion to flag off its 2021–2022 dry season farming activities and celebrate the annual rice festival.
The ABP was launched in 2015 in Kebbi State as a special purpose vehicle meant to boost local rice production and cut back on huge foreign exchange spent annually on the staple food.
ABP assists farmers to increase the production and supply of feedstock to agro-processors with the aim of creating an ecosystem that would link out-growers (smallholders) to local processors. The thrust of ABP is the provision of inputs in kind and cash (for farm labour) to smallholder farmers with a view to boosting the production of rice, maize, poultry, sorghum, cassava, tomatoes, cotton, palm oil, soybean, among others. The idea is to stabilise input supply to agro-processors and address the country’s negative balance of payment on food.
It is also a loan to farmers without collateral and the benefitting farmers are given farm input and cash to cultivate their farms, including the experiment on rice.
According to the structure of the ABP, a farmer who wants to repay his loan can either do so with cash or give the central bank his/her produce of the same value, after which officials of CBN’s Development Finance Department would sell and recover the loan.