The Kebbi State Government on Friday said the N15 billion CBN Ancho-Borrowers loan had transformed the lives of over 70,000 farmers in the state.
Malam Yahaya Sarki, the Special Adviser to Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State on Media stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria .
“It is no doubt that Gov. Bagudu’s has recorded achievement in agriculture through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor-Borrowers programme geared toward improving rice production.
“The scheme is owned and financed by the Federal Government as part of President Buhari’s economic diversification agenda to make Nigeria self-sufficient in food production, especially bolstering the rice value chain.
“The Anchor Borrowers Loan Programme (ABP), under the CBN is a loan scheme to boost rice production that targeted 70,000 farmers.
“The scheme has received the total backing of Gov. Abubakar Bagudu, even though a Federal Government scheme.’’
He said the programme was meant to reduce over-dependence on oil as well as stop rice importation into the country.
“The scheme, which was launched by President Buhari himself in November 2015 in Kebbi, had achieved tremendous successes with the political support of Bagudu.
“Gov. Bagudu’s administration supported the programme by also providing logistics support to the Anchor Borrowers Programme Committee to go out to all the 21 local government areas to capture the bio-data of farmers to ensure that only genuine smallholder farmers get the loan.
“The programme revolutionised rice farming in Kebbi to the extent that within one and a half years of the launch, Kebbi recorded the production of almost two million tonnes of rice,’’ he said.
Sarki said the state became the darling of many states in the country, who became fascinated by Bagudu’s feat in rice production.
“The programme has also made many youths and civil servants who were hitherto not farmers to go back to the farms.
“From 2016 to 2017, most of the pilgrims that registered to go for pilgrimage in Mecca were farmers who got their money through rice cultivation.
“The story did not end there; many Kebbi farmers became millionaires. The state also witnessed the influx of both foreign and local investors. Rice processors established rice mills, both big and small.’’
Sarki said modern rice mills like Labana and Wacot established their bases in Birnin Kebbi and Argungu respectively, adding that other mini ones abound in different parts of the state such as Lolo and Kamba in Dandi LGA.
He said that Oxfam, an international NGO, had commended the Kebbi state government for allocating 10 per cent of its budgetary to agriculture for two years.
“In 2016, N12.6 billion was allocated to agriculture and in 2017, a whopping N14 billion was further injected into the agricultural sector by Bagudu’s government,’’ he recalled.
On investment and infrastructural development, Sarki noted those were the two areas the administration accorded priority with a lot of successes recorded.
“Government policies and programmes in the agricultural sector, especially the success recorded in the Anchor-Borrowers Programme, triggered the establishment of private rice mills, hence, big, medium and small rice mills sprang across the state.
“Notably, Labana Rice mills in Birnin Kebbi, Dangote Rice Mills at Shanga and Wacot in Argungu are glaring examples of big modern rice mills established in the state.
“Other medium and small rice mills also followed suit in Lolo, Dandi, Bunza, Jega, Suru, Yauri LGAs and even within Birnin Kebbi metropolis.’’
Sarki explained said the establishment of such private ventures had led to employment of thousands of youths and even women in the agricultural sector.
Edited By: Johnson Eyiangho/Grace Yussuf (NAN)