From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
No fewer than 4,000 rice farmers in Anambra State would benefit from the Anchor Borrower Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the rice value chain in the state.
With the flag off of the programme in the state, it is expected that about N1.6 billion would be given out if the whole farms are ploughed in the eight rice producing local governments.
Making the clarification during the flag off ceremony at the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) building, Awka, the Micro Finance Expert with Rural Finance Institution Building Programme (RUFIN), Adamu Ibrahim, said the 4000 farmers and the N1.6 billion were for the first round as it was a pilot phase and would subsequently be expanded.
He said, “what we are doing here today is that we are flagging off the Anchor Borrower Programme of the CBN in the rice value chain in Anambra for our farmers. The whole idea is that this programme creates an ecosystem where the primary farmers are linked with the processors with the assistance of the banks to produce rice.
“Consequently, it is expected that banks would increase their assistance to agriculture, the farmers’ income will increase and rice value chain naturally will thrive. We also believe that with increase in rice production, the amount of foreign exchange we are devoting to importing rice will drastically reduce. Because as at last year, we were using N1 billion everyday to import rice, so the essence of this programme is to increase rice production and make sure that our farmers who are our primary concern had their income increased, they have a better standard of living and they can contribute immensely to reducing food import bill in Nigeria.
“We are dealing with 4,000 farmers spread across the rice producing belt in eight local governments of the state and if you look at these 4,000 and considering the fact that a household has about six members, you are talking about a multiplying effect of almost 24,000 people in this Anambra in the first round because this is a pilot; subsequently we intend to expand it.
“If the whole farms are ploughed, we will be looking at N1.6 billion for these eight local governments alone.”
In his remarks, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mechanisation, Processing and Export, Mr. Afam Mbanefo, urged RUFIN to work with state model as it encourages the state’s farmers.
He said the essence of the exercise was to put more money into the hands of farmers and enjoined them to be transparent, trainable, honest and ensure they pay their loans.
The leader of the CBN team, Mr. U. F. Onuoha, said the programme has been packaged to assist rice farmers do more, saying, “we are here to assure you that CBN is behind this programme and will do everything to make it work in Anambra State. We want to improve farmers and their earnings.”