The Bank of Agriculture will soon open more offices in states with a large number of rice farmers to ease access to its facilities, according to its Director-General, Alhji Kabir Adamu.
Adamu, who disclosed this at a stakeholders’ meeting hosted by the Sokoto branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said that more offices would facilitate more participation in the anchor borrowers programmes.
He advised cooperative societies and farmer groups to cash in on the opportunity to boost production.
In his address, Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, National President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), called on the Federal Government to release the 70 per cent of 1 billion dollars approved for rice cultivation by the council of state.
“The 70 percent of 1 billion dollars endorsed for the anchor borrowers programme by the council of state last week should be spent on rice production as approved,” Goronyo who was represented by RIFAN Vice Chairman, North-West, Alhaji Muhammad Auwal, said.
He said that RIFAN was targeting 200,000 hectares of land for this year’s dry season farming, adding that 24 States were involved.
“When the anchor programme was launched in 2015, RIFAN was given a target of one million hectares of land.
“But we were able to cover only 229,000 hectares of land under the conventional anchor borrowers’ programme in two years because it was a pilot scheme.
“We want to use 200,000 hectares for rice production this dry season alone under the RIFAN/CBN model which is a pilot scheme taking place in 24 states of the federation,” he said
He added that the target for wet season farming was 1.2 million hectares under the pilot scheme, and thanked the federal government for the one-year grace given to their members to repay their loans.
The president said that the moratorium would enable them to pay in three installments which would boost their production.
He also commended the CBN and the agriculture bank for the initiative, saying that it had indeed identified genuine farmers and supplied inputs to many of them.
Earlier, Musa Olasofu, Senior Manager, Development Finance of CBN, had said that the aim of the engagement was to sensitise farmers on the biometric input distribution meant to identify genuine farmers and supply them with inputs.
Malam Sa’id, Manager, Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation, Sokoto Branch, who also spoke at the occasion, expressed commitment to the success of the scheme.
The Chairman of RIFAN in Sokoto State, Alhaji Salihu Ibrahim, in his remarks, said that more than 12,000 rice farmers had been captured in the state for the CBN/RIFAN anchor borrowers scheme.