The National President, Rice Farmers Association (RIFAN), Aminu Goronyo, says more than 12 million rice farmers will participate in this year’s Anchor Borrowers Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Mr. Goronyo disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna on Thursday, while sensitising rice farmers to the requirements of the new phase of the CBN programme. He said that the modified Anchor Borrowers Programme would strengthen efforts to attain bumper rice harvest at the end of the 2017 wet season.
He said that the bumper harvest would lead to a crash in the price of paddy rice in the country in a matter of days. We are on tour of the whole country to interact with RIFAN members on the new developments in the Anchor Borrowers Programme, he said. “The programme was being run by so many stakeholders, causing lots of setbacks in loan repayment. “The CBN has, therefore, modified the programme, particularly with 2017 dry season rice production.”
Mr. Goronyo said that the CBN had modified the Anchor Borrowers Programme in a way that would enable it to work directly with RIFAN to ensure timely disbursement and full repayment of loans. According to him, over 12 million rice farmers from 32 states will benefit from the loan under the programme. “We, therefore, asked all our national executive officers to go back to their states and sensitise RIFAN members to the new developments, as the 2017 dry season rice farming will soon commence. “The Anchor Borrowers Programme is the best thing that has ever happened to rice farmers in this country. “We have never received the kind of support we got in the 2016 dry season rice production cycle from any government in my over 30 year-experience as a rice farmer. “As RIFAN members, we will ensure that every farmer repay his loan and as at when due,” he said. The RIFAN president, however, urged the federal government to outlaw rice importation and check rice smuggling. The quantity of smuggled rice into the country is unquantifiable and this must be checked, so as to ensure the country’s attainment of rice sufficiency through local production,
Mr. Goronyo said. “If the trend continues, rice farmers may not be able to repay their loans but things would definitely be different if they have good patronage; if foreign rice saturates our markets, where will the farmers get the money to repay their loans? “We are drawing the attention of the customs boss, retired Col. Hammed Ali, to look into this issue. “We recently signed a MoU with the Customs for us to work together and we hope that something good will come out of it.’’
Mr. Goronyo said that RIFAN had more than one million hectares of rice farmlands under cultivation, while more rice farmers were joining the association ahead of the dry season rice production. Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture NAN recalls that RIFAN and the rice processors association, at a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe, on October 4, pledged to slash the price of locally produced rice to N6,000 per 50kg bag before the end of the year.