For President Muhammadu Buhari, the commissioning of rice pyramids in Abuja yesterday is an indication that Nigeria is making steady and assured progress towards self-sufficiency in food production.
The federal government is pursuing an agenda of Nigerians consuming what is produced locally to discourage importation, reduce pressure on the naira and grow the economy, an idea that is seen as protectionism by some foreign economists.
“The measure will aid our efforts at reducing the price of rice in Nigeria,” Buhari said.
The president expressed expectation that other agricultural commodity associations that are yet to participate under the Central Bank of Nigeria-funded Anchor Borrowers’ Programme will emulate the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) 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 yesterday.
LEADERSHIP reports that the president unveiled 13 rice pyramids or 13 million bags of rice at the event 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,” Buhari said.
Speaking at the event, CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele said beyond increasing the national output from about 5.4 million metric tonnes in 2015 to over nine million metric tonnes in 2021, the CBN, in collaboration with the rice farmers, had also significantly improved the productivity per hectare of the smallholder farmer from about 2.4 metric tons per hectare in 2015 to between about 5 metric tonnes per hectare 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, noting that 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 told the president.
Emefiele praised smallholder farmers and stakeholders in the rice production line for their resilience.
He said the expectation is that the emerging situation of commercial rice farming in Nigeria will drive down the price of rice at the local market and discourage demand for foreign rice. Many also think the government should support local production to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The CBN chief executive noted that security challenged posed from banditry to terrorism by ISWAP and Boko Haram fighters have affected farmers with some losing their lives while others cannot access their farms.
“As of the end of December 2021, the CBN had financed 4,489,786 farmers that cultivated 5,300,411 hectares across 21 commodities through 23 participating financial institutions in the 36 states of the federation and FCT,” Emefiele said.
On his part, 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 of the Buhari administration, adding that it is not 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,” he stated.
Buhari Has Delivered His Promise In Agriculture – Goronyo
For his part, the president of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Aminu Goronyo, said President Buhari had delivered his promise to revolutionise the agricultural sector through policies that will ensure food sufficiency.
He said through the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), smallholder rice farmers have produced large quantities of rice in several pyramids across the states.
“With this achievement in rice production President Muhammadu Buhari has delivered his promise to revolutionise the agricultural sector and he has put the sector on track. I don’t think any president that comes after him can neglect that achievement.
“Smallholder farmers who are committed to ABP have carried out the president’s instructions that Nigerians should go back to farm; and despite banditry, kidnapping and insecurity, our farmers have been able to achieve this,” he stated.