President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians of reduction in prices of food production in the country.
President Buhari said more than 4.8 million smallholder farmers had been supported by Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, with increase in production of 23 agricultural commodities including maize, rice, oil palm, cocoa, cotton, cassava, tomato and livestock.
The president said this at the official commissioning ceremony of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)/Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) Rice Paddy Pyramids at the Abuja International Trade Fair Complex,
This was contailed in a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
The statement read: “Today rice production in Nigeria has increased to over 7.5 million metric tons annually. Prior to the introduction of Anchor Borrowers Programme (APB), the average production in Nigeria between 1999 to 2015 was less than 4 metric tons annually.
“I am aware that the bags of paddy will be moving straight from here to rice milling plants across Nigeria, which lead 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.
“Before this administration launched the ABP, there were only 15 standard Rice mills in Nigeria. As at today, we have over 50 Standard and integrated Rice mills creating jobs and reducing unemployment. We expect additional significant output when two new mills are started in Lagos and Katsina.”
The president said the large margins in the business of rice had also encouraged more people to show interest in investing in agribusiness.
“As a critical policy of the government, the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme is expected to catalyze 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.
“In the implementation of the Programme, adoption of high-yielding seedlings, quality inputs and best farming practices were essential features.
“For instance, the improved rice seedlings have helped to ensure our achievement of rice sufficiency, as they are disease-resistant and have an average yield of about 5 metric tonnes per hectare, compared with the traditional national average of 1.5 metric tonnes.
“This has resulted in bridging our rice consumption gap, a significant reduction in rice imports, and saved us foreign exchange,” he added.
Buhari said Nigeria was making progress towards self-sufficiency in food production as evident in the commissioning of rice pyramids
He said: “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 in supporting our administration’s drive for food self-sufficiency.”
The president said about three years ago, the first set of sky-high pyramids of rice harvests were showcased in Argungu, Kebbi State, which was followed by another set in Minna, Niger State, about a year ago and barely three months later in Zauro, Kebbi State, rice pyramids were, again, unveiled.
He said in May 2021, the CBN unveiled the first rice pyramids in the South-West of Nigeria in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State.
The president added: “Those events were historic as, first, they remind us of our yester-year’s agricultural commodity pyramids, such as the groundnut pyramids in Kano and secondly, they symbolize that we can produce what we eat.
“The significance of today’s occasion can be better understood by looking at the various economic strides the administration has achieved through agriculture.
“When we assumed the reins of leadership of this country in 2015, the administration identified the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme as an essential policy instrument for achieving economic diversification through agriculture.
“To achieve this, the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme was designed to encourage investments in agriculture and empower smallholder farmers as drivers of transformation in the agricultural sector and as critical enablers of economic growth.
“I am indeed delighted that the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme continues to receive commendations, since its introduction six years ago, as it has become one of the reference points in the administration’s agricultural revolution effort.
President Buhari, however, commended the Central Bank of Nigeria for its efforts at resuscitating the Nigerian Commodity Exchange following approval to do so.
This, he said, had been done in the hope that farmers can have ready buyers of their produce, thereby resolving the current logistical challenge of moving their produce from farm to markets.
According to him, 83“Let me also commend the Governor and staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria, as well as the leadership of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria for the successful delivery of these pyramids, which hopefully is just the first of many that will be unveiled this year across Nigeria.’’
On his part,CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, commended President Buhari’s outstanding resolve on food security for the country, unveiling the single largest rice pyramid in history,