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Anchor Borrower Programme: FG Targets 300,000 Metric Tons of Dry Season Rice

By ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna

As part of effort to reduce rice importation and conserve Nigeria external reserves, the Federal government said the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Rice Borrower Programme is targeted to produce 300,000 metric tons of rice over the dry season period.

Speaking with journalists during an interview at the weekend in Kaduna, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Bank of Agriculture (BOA), Professor Danbala Danju, said the programme is aimed at boosting domestic production of rice.

According to him, “you know the country has been importing rice, and because of the foreign exchange crack, the focus of the new administration is to try to produce things that we used to import.

“So we came into the anchor borrower program with the aim of supporting farmers to boost domestic production of rice. The programme was piloted in Kebbi State, and the initial figure if you take Kebbi as a whole is about 75, 000 farmers with about 98,000 hectares of land.

“Each farmer has a budget of about N210, 000 per hectare, the disbursement is in two forms and largely they are given inputs like seeds, fertilizer, pumps and then they’re given about N49, 000 as working capital, then labour cost for land preparation and day to day management of the rice production.

“Now, not all the 75,000 farmers we targeted collected the average amount of N210,000 per hectare because some of them had their water pumps or other inputs. But on average each of the farmers was targeted to receive N210,000 being the estimated cost of cultivation of a hectare of paddy during the dry season.

“Now, having expended nearly the N12billion with the average productivity per hectare of 45 you could then multiply; we target to have more than 300,000 metric tons of rice being produced over the dry season period.

“And then we now have plans because of the success of the pilot scheme in Kebbi, the Federal Government directed that we work closely with the Central Bank of Nigeria to target about 13 states in the anchor rice borrower programme as well as in wheat production, tomato and other staple crops.

Primarily, for now the focus is on rice to help achieve the current objective of self sufficiency in domestic rice production in about 1/2 years which the President and Commander in Chief, Muhammadu Buhari has promised the country. The Bank of Agriculture is the main implementing agency.”

Professor Danbala assured that the programme is secure as biometric data of every registered farmer is collected and Bank Verification Number (BVN) is issued to them in the process, adding “What we’ve done is that, there’s a farmers registration. The target is for the small scale farmers who have an average hectare of one to a maximum of 5 hectares. This is what we’ve been doing, there’s a private company that is partnering with Bank of Agriculture to properly register and identify the farmers to avoid duplication.”

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