The president of the Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari and the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele have said the total aggregate of farmers who have benefited from it’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme now totals over 4.4million with about 5.3 million hectares of land so far cultivated.

They made this known on Tuesday in Abuja during the unveiling of FCT Mega Rice Pyramids by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Delivering separate speeches at the return of days of pyramids in the country, Emefiele who agree with the President expressed delight that the journey from 2015 has now benefitted millions of smallholder farmers.

“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.

Emefiele said the Apex bank through it’s Anchor Borrowers’Programme 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.

Speaking further on the determination of the CBN to improve yield per hectare, Governor Emefiele 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”.

Speaking earlier, the president of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) Garba Goronyo expressed appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari and Godwin Emefiele for conceiving the vision who has numerous benefits to his association.

CBN has financed a lot of farmers. In rice which is my sector, the cbn finance has created about 5million jobs, especially for farmers and suppliers, are provided every year through this financing.

“We extend our appreciation to the CBN governor who has made it possible for smallholder farmers to have access to fund for the cultivation of rice Paddy in the country.”, Goronyo said.

According to CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, more unveiling of pyramids will be carried out this year’s in the Southeast and other regions of the country.