• Friday, June 21, 2024
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CBN’s rice programme seen stimulating economy, targets 14 more states


The plan by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to expand its Anchor borrower’s scheme to 14 states is seen by experts to stimulate the economy and lessen the N365bn annual  rice  import bill.

The expansion of the  scheme to 14 more states in the country comes against the backdrop of  recent successes recorded  by the Kebbi state government with its target of doing 1.5 million metric tonnes by 2018,and sustaining the livelihoods of 78 000 farmers who are captured in the scheme.

The states in focus are Benue,Ebonyi,Cross -River,Kano,Niger,Katsina,Jigawa,Kaduna,Kogi,Kwara,Sokoto and Anambra.

Jonathan Tobin, executive director at the Bank of Industry,(BoI) told BusinessDay  that the Federal Government’s plan of expanding the Anchor  Borrower’s Scheme to 14 other states has the capacity to bounce back agricultural focused states,given the level of positive results currently being witnessed in the Kebbi state pilot scheme.

“Kebbi is currently targeting 1.5 million metric tonnes of rice production by 2018. Imagine if we get the other 14 states on board,we could have up to 13 million metric tonnes of  paddy rice which would make our journey to rice sufficiency easier,covering our  metric tonnes domestic demand”

The Anchor Borrower’s Scheme,it would be recalled  was  launched by President Muhammadu Buhari alongside Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor and Audu Ogbeh on November 17 last year and is an agric financing model that creates an eco system to link out-growers (small holder farmers) to integrated rice mills.

The Central Bank reserved N40 billion to provide single-digit interest loans to rice and wheat farmers, as part of a government campaign to boost agriculture and reduce food imports, which weighs heavily on the local currency.

Sources in the project management team of the anchor borrower’s scheme  told BusinessDay  that in the pilot scheme 78, 000  farmers have been trained on the practice with the CBN  and Nigeria Incentive Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) are building capacity of farmers to launch them into agribusiness model.

In response  to the government’s proposed expansion,Tony Ejinkonye,the President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce told Business day that”There is no gain saying the fact that agriculture is the way out of the present economic woe that is confronting us at the moment. If the Central Bank extends its intervention to  14 other states as it plans to,I tell you convincingly that sufficient food production will pull  down high inflationary rate that is currently affecting the  price of agro-commodity products in the country, “Tony Ejinkonye,the President of Abuja Chamber of commerce told BusinessDay in a telephone conversation.

It would be noted that there has been rising concerns on the inability of many states across the federation to pay up salaries,amid dwindling revenue  resources,rising inflation and economic uncertainty in addition to seeking bail out interventions from the federal government  which many analysts see  as unsustainable as a result of weak sustainable  economic plans by some states.

But  experts in the agricultural sector  insist that  agriculture is the solution to Nigeria’s  current economic challenges ,adding that  the  Central Bank of Nigeria’s Pilot Scheme  in Kebbi state and the recorded success so far , if replicated in the proposed 14 rice producing states has the capacity to make the states economically viable through agriculture and pull down the high cost of rice of with a 50 kg bag currently selling at N16 000.

Nigeria is one of the top 12 rice-consuming countries in the world and the highest net importer in Africa and the second largest importer of rice in the world. Domestic demand for the product is between 5 to 6.4 million metric tons annually.

Harrison Edeh