By Racheal Ishaya
The cluster of rice farms in Niger are expected to produce one million tonnes of rice through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, the bank said in a statement in Abuja o Sunday.
The CBN acting Director of Communications, Mr Isaac Okorafor, said in the statement that the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, made the fact known when he inspected rice farms in some local government areas of the state.
The governor was accompanied by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh, the Governor of Niger, Alhaji Abubakar Bello, and the Governor of Kebbi, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu.
Emefiele said that over 14,000 farmers in Niger had benefited from the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, with billion naira disbursed from the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund .
He said that the programme’s enhanced funding for agriculture was in line with the bank’s resolve to build a strong and sustainable agriculture sector with integrated value chains.
On his part, Ogbeh said President Muhammadu Buhari was satisfaction with the programme and commended the farmers for contributing to efforts to ensure food security for Nigerians.
He assured the farmers that government would provide them harvesters and mills.
Ogbe expressed optimism that the planned installation of state-of-the-art harvesters and mills would lead to increased production of rice in Nigeria.
He also promised that the government would provide them a solar-powered irrigation system to ensure all-year-round farming.
The minister urged farmers to embrace shifting cultivation to ensure the restoration of depleted soil nutrients.
He said that government would soon stop the importation of rice into Nigeria because of increased local production of the crop.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Farmers’ Cooperative in Niger, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed, thanked the Federal Government for assisting farmers in the state.
He cited the lack of mechanised farming and irrigation tools for dry season farming as some of the challenges facing farmers.
Mohammed, however, urged the farmers to remain focused and committed to rice production as government was determined to address the issue of local agriculture production.
President Buhari on Nov. 17, 2015, launched the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in Kebbi.
The programme has been replicated in 14 states of Adamawa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Lagos, Niger, Ogun, Plateau, Sokoto and Zamfara for rice and wheat farmers.
The programme aims to upgrade small farmers to commercial farmers, increase food production and create jobs.