Return of the Pyramids, as CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme reset fundamentals

The Development Finance Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria reported that the programme had helped participating farmers to improve their yields, especially maize from initial two metric tons per hectare, to five metric tons per hectare, while that of rice has risen to four metric tons, per hectare.

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Rice pyramid

The Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) is a flagship of the Central Bank of Nigeria, aimed at lifting small holder farmers by the bootstraps. Intended to build strong a linkage between anchor companies involved in food processing and small holder farmers in target agricultural commodities,  the programme commenced with  a seed fund of N220 billion, lent to farmers at 9 percent interest rate.

The interest rate was later reviewed downwards to five per cent, to allow for more inclusive participation for farmers.

Recently, the central bank revealed that it had disbursed about N791 billion to over three million farmers across the 36 states, under the programme, according to Kadiri Abdulrahman in a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report.

The Development Finance Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria reported that the programme had helped participating farmers to improve their yields, especially maize from initial two metric tons per hectare, to five metric tons per hectare, while that of rice has risen to four metric tons, per hectare.

Two initial beneficiary states of were Kebbi and Lagos. The two states went into a collaboration that birthed the LAKE Rice initiative. That initiative has now facilitated the construction of a multi-billion Naira 32 metric tons per hour capacity rice mill by the Lagos state government.

Abdulrahman said that the ABP has started yielding the desired results, as the CBN unveiled rice and maize pyramids in some states. “Kebbi appears to have positioned itself as a hub of rice production in the country, with the unveiling of its rice pyramids in March, which is also a pointer to the gains of the ABP.”

The rice and maize pyramids reflect the success of the programme and the attendant multiplier effects on the economy and the country’s food security.

The pyramids were unveiled during a combined event marking the fifth anniversary of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, the National Rice Festival, and the flag off of the 2020/2021 dry season input distribution under the aegis of the CBN-Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) collaboration.

Emefiele, who commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the Kebbi State Governor for their support in the last five years of the “ABP experiment,’’ said that unveiling the rice pyramids was a happy moment to celebrate the gains of the programme.

Shortly after the Kebbi showcase, the CBN also unveiled 13 Rice Pyramids consisting of 200,000, 50 kg bags each in Gombe State, an event the President described as marking the return of food sufficiency in the country.

Unveiling the maize pyramids in Katsina State, Emefiele said that though maize pyramids are rare, the apex bank was able to achieve the feat through synergy amongst stakeholders and the resilience of farmers. He said that Maize was one of the priority crops under the ABP.

Debunking the notion that most of CBN’s agriculture support initiatives were concentrated in a section of the country, Emefiele explained that out of N700 billion earmarked for the ABP, more than N300 billion had been disbursed in the southern part of the country for the expansion of food production.

Groundnut pyramids were common sight in Kano and other parts of Northern Nigeria in the past. These cities experienced a boom in groundnut production, which eventually became the country’s most valuable single exported crop.

The pyramids had, however, ceased in Nigeria from the 1980s, until the CBN initiated the ABP and renewed focus on agriculture, industries, small and medium scale enterprises and other areas of the real sector.

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