Over 12,000 farmers are to benefit as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), yesterday, flagged off the rice pyramid programme in Ekiti State, with a vision to finance over three million rice farmers nationwide to boost production and improve the agriculture value-chain.

This came as Governors of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa) and Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), described the programme as a good scheme that would reduce import and make Nigeria fully independent in food production.

Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa) and Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), described the programme as a good scheme that would reduce import and make Nigeria fully independent in food production.

CBN Governor, Dr. Godwin Emefiele, who spoke while unveiling the first rice pyramid in the South-West in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, said the anchor borrowers’ programme had expanded agriculture production for 21 crops across Nigeria.

He said that over three million farmers were being financed in the production of a variety of Agric products that can improve the economy, provide jobs and increase Nigeria’s imports for foreign exchange earnings.

Emefiele said some governors had accessed N1.5 billion each to undertake such policy in their states.

The CBN governor, who debunked the widespread rumour that some of the agriculture boosting programmes of President Muhammadu Buhari was concentrated in a section of the country, said that out of N700 billion earmarked for the Anchor Borrowers Programme, more than N300 billion had been disbursed in the southern part of the country for the expansion of food production.

Emefiele, who said the bank’s programmes to boost agriculture were spread over all parts of the country, stated that over N300bn out of the N700bn earmarked for the ABP had been disbursed in the southern part of the country for food production.

While speaking on the rice pyramid project, which is the first in the South-West, he said, “The pyramid unveiling moment for the 2021 wet season started in Niger State, moved to Kebbi, touched Gombe, and now, we are in Ekiti State and we want it to touch all states in the coming months.

“We strongly believe that this event will generate the required momentum to catalyse rice cultivation in the region and provide a sustainable source of paddy for the numerous rice mills springing up in the South-West and its environs.”

Fayemi said Buhari had demonstrated the capacity to tackle poverty and reduce dependence on foreign food by many of his initiatives in the agriculture sector, adding that rice clearing, production of seedlings and farm implements at low interest would enhance rice value-chain from primary producers to processors.

Akeredolu, in his remarks, said Ekiti had always been known for rice production, saying this programme would return the lost glory and redirect the state to the right path of economic greatness.

In the same vein, Bagudu said the success of rice production was due to strong collaboration between the Federal Government, especially CBN and the governors.

Meanwhile, speaking about the importance of agriculture, the Jigawa State governor said that for Nigeria to progress, it must produce to substitute import.

Governor Gboyega Oyetola said the programme would enhance food sufficiency, diversification programme of the government and good security status.

Oyetola appealed to Nigerians to patronise local foods to serve as a morale booster to farmers to be able to produce more.

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