Kebbi State has once again positioned itself as the main hub of rice production in the country, with the unveiling of its rice pyramids, which is a pointer to the gains of the Federal Government’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).
The sky-high pyramids does not only signpost the success recorded by the scheme in the last five years, it also reflects the attendant multiplier effects on the economy and the country’s food security.
The unveiling, held at Zauro area of the state, was part of the fifth anniversary of the scheme. It was also an occasion to mark the National Rice Festival and the flag off of the 2020/2021 dry season input distribution under the Central Bank of Nigeria-Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN).
What still came as a surprise to many was the way and manner the state recovered from the devastating flooding, which wreaked havoc on rice plantations across the state. The anniversary is a testimony of a monumental harvest within the shortest time.
The state Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, who noted that the investments in the ABP were already paying off, said the rice farmers have displayed the successes and gains of the last five years by showing the massive array of rice pyramids.
“This is a great testament to the happy journey so far in spite of the devastating effects of the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the economy, flood disasters and other issues. Our hard working populace has been supported by good economic policies by President Muhammadu Buhari, institutions such as the CBN, other agencies and other commercial banks.
“Nigerians have been resilient at work; hence, we are celebrating these achievements recorded in the last five years. The last five years have given us great hopes that agriculture will continue to produce the desired results.”
Bagudu expressed delight that the President has graciously been supporting the state, as well as the CBN that agricultural financing was no longer a problem to small-scale producers in the country.
He noted that the moves had not only brought succor to the country in terms of food security and diversification, but had also successfully made the country exit recession in two quick successions.
The Governor also noted that CBN, under Godwin Emefiele, has taken the risk, shown commitment and pumped more money to small scale farmers, a situation that has never been seen in Nigeria.
“This was a great feat under President Muhammadu Buhari. With the right support and policies, Nigerian farmers can favourably compete with their colleagues from across the world.”
He acknowledged the support of all the stakeholders, noting that Nigerian farmers are now producing more healthier and hygienic rice.
The CBN Governor, Emefiele, who commended the President and the Kebbi State Governor for their uncommon support in the last five years of the ABP experiment, said the rice pyramids unveiling, was a happy moment to celebrate the gains of the programme, saying, “Kebbi has been an integral part of the ABP.”
Specifically, he noted that a total of 2,923, 937 farmers, cultivating 3,647,643 hectares across 21 commodities through 23 participating financial institutions had been financed in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He disclosed that the apex bank, under the 2020 wet season CBN-RIFAN partnership, financed 221,450 farmers for the cultivation of 221,450 hectares in 32 states.
“The Northwest zone with 85,261 farmers that cultivated 120,218hectares represented 38.5 per cent in total number of farmers and 54.3 per cent in total number of hectares financed. The massive pyramids launched in Kebbi were harvest from various fields across Kebbi State and a confirmation of the positive outlook of the ABP.”
He noted that the country is naturally blessed to meet her food requirement and had no reason to continually repeat mistakes of the past of neglecting agriculture.
He expressed delight that Kebbi State has earned for itself a new name, as the cradle of ABP in Nigeria, the tempo President Buhari is desirous of sustaining.
The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said the scheme has increased the capacity of Nigerians to produce what they eat and eat what they produce, in line with the directive of the President.
Former Senate President, Ken Nnamani also lauded Bagudu for making Kebbi as one of the flagship states of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and averred,” Bagudu is now the Governor of all Governors and not only Kebbi State.”
The National President of RIFAN, Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, who expressed gratitude to the president for his vision that Nigeria must feed itself by producing what she eats and eat what she produces, said the country is no longer solely dependent on imported polluted foreign rice.
While noting that the Kebbi State Governor and the CBN Governor have translated this commitment of Buhari, he added that the apex bank has done well to actualize the president’s vision, noting that the CBN Governor had proved to the world that agricultural revolution is doable.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, stressed the need for leaders in the country to be just and accountable, saying: “lack of food is lack of everything and without food; you can’t do anything, even worship.”
The Beninoise Foreign Minister, Arelien Agbenonci, who led a high powered delegation of four other Ministers, Beninoise Ambassador to Nigeria and a Senator, who observe and apply the magic behind the rice revolution success in the country, said Nigeria and Benin Republics are one and the same.
“Anything that destroys Nigeria destroys the Benin Republic. Our President has also promised to ban any product that is banned by Nigeria. Otherwise, this epoch-making event should have been conducted in Niger or Benin Republics,” he said.