The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has said that the Anchor Borrowers' programme introduced in 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari is paying off as the country has significantly reduced rice importation through massive local production.
He made the statement during the unveiling of rice pyramids in Abuja by the president today.
The government said the Anchor Borrowers' programme, which gives loans and technical support to smallholder farmers, has led to the expansion of rice mills from 15 in 2015 to over 50 standard and integrated rice mills across the country, saving the country billions on rice importation.
"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," Emefiele said.
"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. The Anchor Borrowers' Programme has catalysed the rural economy and has built a sustainable framework for financing smallholder farmers in Nigeria."
The CBN boss also quantified that rice production in the country rose to 9million metric tonnes in 2021 from about 5.4m metric tonnes in 2015, adding that the government will not relent efforts in attaining sufficiency and export to other countries.
Also speaking at the launch, the President of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Aminu Goronyo, commended the government for introducing the Anchor Borrowers Programme, which has continued to thrive despite insecurity and climate uncertainties.
Goronyo said that the paddy the president unveiled would be taken over by the CBN and sold to millers at a subsidised rate and that the price of the staple food would soon drop in the market.