The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) has distributed farm inputs to farmers under the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) to boost rice production in the state.
Mrs Helen Temtsen, the Head, Development Finance, CBN office in Jos, while launching the pilot scheme of the distribution said the gesture was aimed at improving food production.
According to her, it is also aimed at encouraging self-sufficiency in the agriculture sector.
Mrs Temtsen explained that the apex bank noticed serious depletion in the nation’s external reserve owing to importation of food items that could ordinarily be produced in the country.
This she said necessitated the need to support farmers with loans to go into high production.
“Between 2014 and 2015, more than N1 billion was spent on importation of rice, wheat, fish and other food items in this country.
“These are items we can produce in this country to consume and even export, but we keep depleting our external reserves because of so much importation.
“To address the anomaly, CBN came up with the Anchor Borrowers initiative which RIFAN keyed into, so as to provide farmers with loans to encourage them to go into production of huge and quality rice for the populace,’’ she said.
According to her, the loans will be given to farmers in form of inputs without any collateral as RIFAN will stand as guarantor for the beneficiaries.
She said the beneficiaries would bear the cost of production and collection of items would not be done by proxy, to ensure transparency and accountability in the process
Temtsen explained that for the 2018 dry season farming, 724 hectres of land would be used for the production of rice, adding that 666 farmers would benefit from the gesture in the state.
She called on the beneficiaries to put into good use the inputs given to them in order not to deviate from the purpose of the programme, which was aimed at addressing food scarcity in the state and country at large.
The RIFAN chairman in Plateau Mr Joshua Bitrus, noted that the gesture was a right step in the right direction.
According to him, diversification remains cardinal in taking Nigeria to the path of economic growth.
“Today, the long awaited anchor borrower’s programme is taking off in our dear state.
“Farmers will today be given modern farm inputs that will enable them go into best global agricultural practice that will lead to greater rice production in the state.
“While we continually pray for the success of this programme in our dear state, it will be pertinent to draw the attention of all stakeholders in rice farming to partner with us in all aspects to make the state hub of rice production in the country,” he said.
Items such as include water pumps, sprayers, fertilizer, herbicides, and improvised rice seeds, among others distributed to farmers.