President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday expressed satisfaction with the yield of rice, which is now over 7.5 million metric tons annually as against 4 million metric tons in 2015.
Buhari who unveiled the FCT Mega Rice pyramids in Abuja, also reiterated that the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has supported over 4.4 million smallholder farmers across the country, with 21 commodities.
“The Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has so far supported over 4 million smallholder farmers across Nigeria for the production of 21 agricultural commodities including maize, rice, oil palm, cocoa, cotton, cassava, tomatoes and livestock.
“Today, rice production in Nigeria has increased to over 7.5 million metric tons annualy. Prior to the introduction of ABP, the average production Nigeria between 1999 to 2015 was less than 4 million metric tons annually”, he said.
The president further stated that distributing the rice to millers across the country would result to price reduction in the nation.
“I am aware that the bags of paddy will be moving straight from here to rice milking plants across Nigeria, which leads to the release of processed rice to the markets by the rice millers. The measure will aid our efforts at reducing the price of rice in Nigeria”, he said.
The president said, the rice pyramids were part of his administration’s effort at ensuring food security and diversification of the economy through home grown policy.
“Fellow Nigerians, our gathering here today, is no doubt a testament to that fact that the anchor Borrowers’Programme 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.
“As a critical policy of the government, the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme is expected to catalyse the agricultural productive base of the nation, which is a major part of our economic plan to uplift the economy, create jobs, reduce reliance on imported food and industrial raw materials, and conserve foreign exchange.”
He also called on other commodities farmers association to key in to the programme, to support his administration’s effort at ensuring food security.
“The commissioning of these rice pyramids today, is an indication that our country is making steady and assured progress towards self-sufficiency in food production, and it is my desired hope and expectation that other agricultural commodity associations that are yet to participate under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme will emulate the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria supporting our administration drive for food security”.
Also speaking, the CBN’s Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele said, the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has reduced the strain on the foreign reserves by reducing imports and creating jobs in the country.
Emefiele said, the Apex banks effort in collaboration with small holder farmers has drastically reduced rice imports from Thailand from 1.3 million tons of rice in 2014 to 2160 million metric tons in 2021.
He said, “we are delighted that these efforts have yielded fruits in not just increasing the availability of rice, but also in moderating prices, reducing imports and increasing job creation in the country.
“For example, Thailand alone exported 1.3 million metric tons of rice to Nigeria in 2014. The ABP was launched in 2015 to curtail these imports, and since then, we have seen incremental reductions in rice imports from Thailand.
“By 2016, rice imports from Thailand had fallen to only 58,000 metric tons. As of the end of 2021, they only exported 2,160 metric tons to Nigeria, thereby saving us foreign exchange and helping preserve jobs in Nigeria,” he said.
Godwin Emefiele said the total aggregate of farmers in its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme net is now over 4million with about 5.3 million hectares so far cultivated.
“The Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has catalyzed the rural economy and has built a sustainable framework for financing small holder farmers in Nigeria. The Programme has developed an ecosystem among all nodes of the agricultural value chain and these linkages can be better optimized through synergy among all stakeholders.
“As at the end of December 2021, we have financed 4,489,786 farmers that cultivated 5,300,411 hectares across 21 commodities through 23 Participating Financial Institutions in the 36 States of the Federation and FCT”, Emefiele stated.
The Governor also said, the yield of smallholder farmers has also improved per hectares, due to the inputs supplied, thereby making Nigeria attain the enviable position of the largest rice producer in the continent.
“Beyond increasing our national output from about 5.4 million metric tons in 2015 to over 9 million metric tons in 2021, we have also significantly improved the 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.
“These expansions have not only made Nigeria the 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 6 in 2015 to over 50 in 2021 with many more in various stages of completion. Today, Nigeria’s milled rice matches the foreign rice in quality. Your Excellency, as part of this event, you will be inspecting some of the numerous Nigeria milled rice in the exhibition stands,” Emefiele said.
Governor Emefiele further revealed that efforts are under way to ensure that smallholder farmers’ yield increases as it has discovered a variety with higher yields, which is expected to commence in the 2022 dry season.
He said, “we are currently exploring a new rice seed variety with RIFAN that has potential to deliver over 8 tons per ha. The pilot programme should commence in the 2022 dry season, and it has the potential of being the game changer for the rice sector in Nigeria.
“We will work with the various seed certification authorities and explore the possibility of patenting it for RIFAN as part of their legacies under the Programme”.
CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele said with the successes recorded in the rice production, it has commenced what he termed as the “Brown Revolution” as a mantra for the transformation of the wheat valuechain in Nigeria.
He regretted that Nigeria only produce about 1 per cent of the 5-6 million metric tons of wheat consumed annually. He said this costs the nation about $2 billion annually on Importation of the product, which is the third most consumed grain after maize and rice.
He also said wheat accounts for the second highest food import bill in Nigeria, thereby putting pressure on the nation’s foreign exchange reserves.
He commended the farmers diligently submitting their paddy rice as repayment of loans under the 2020 dry season and 2021 wet seasons.
Emefiele however commended president Muhammadu Buhari for providing the required leadership and vision, as COVID-19 has shown that we cannot rely on imports.
On his part, the President of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Aminu Goronyo said, the smallholder farmers despite the security challenges remain committed, adding that some of them were killed in the process and some hospitalised but refused to give up, therefore deserve appreciations.
He said, the CBN financed a lot of farmers, disclosing that the intervention has created about 3million jobs, especially for farmers and suppliers, even as said that about 5million jobs are provided through the arrangement.