President Muhammadu Buhari has said the commissioning of rice pyramids in Abuja was an indication that Nigeria is making steady and assured progress towards self-sufficiency in food production.
The President expressed expectation that other agricultural commodity associations that were yet to participate under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)-funded Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) will emulate the rice farmers association of Nigeria in supporting his administration’s drive for food self-sufficiency.
The President made the remarks at the unveiling of the FCT Mega Rice Pyramids in Abuja on Tuesday morning.
The President unveiled 13 rice pyramids or one million bags of rice at the event that was attended by some state governors and business operators.
“As a critical policy of the government, the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme is expected to catalyse the agricultural productive base of the nation, which is a major part of our economic plan to uplift the economy, create jobs, reduce reliance on imported food and industrial raw materials, and conserve foreign exchange,” Mr Buhari said.
Speaking at the event, CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, said beyond increasing the national output from about 5.4 million metric tons in 2015 to over 9 million metric tons in 2021, the CBN in collaboration with the rice farmers have also significantly improved the productivity per hectare of the smallholder farmer from about 2.4 metric tons per hectares in 2015 to between about 5 metric tons per hectares in 2021.
The CBN governor said the unveiling of the rice pyramids was one of the many achievements of the CBN funded Anchored Borrowers’ Programme, saying the feat was achieved due to the vision and determination of the Buhari-led administration to deliver on food security.
“I salute your vision of making agriculture a cornerstone,” Emefiele said to the President.
Emefiele appreciated the resilience of the smallholder farmers and the stakeholders in the rice production line.
He reminded the president that the farmers have battled lots of insurgency, banditry bad kidnapping to which some of them have lost their lives while others could not access their farms.
Emefiele said the bank has financed about 5 million small holder framers on rice farming, saying that is still a far cry from the desired goals. He said Covid-19 has shown that Nigeria cannot rely on import.
Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, said it was clear from the beginning in 2015, when Buhari was seeking the position of the President of the country, that agriculture was going to be the major thrust if the Buhari administration, a reason he said it wasn’t surprising to see the president live up to that promise.
Fayemi said the doubt about food insecurity must now be removed with the rice revolution in Nigeria. “This is about food security. National security now means food security and food security means national security.
“The job is not done. We shall not relent until the availability of rice as a stable food is achieved,” the governor stated.