From Shuaibu Zubair Tatu, Birnin Kebbi
The chairman of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) in Kebbi State, Alhaji Muhammad Sahabi Augie said 70, 000 registered rice farmer benefited from Anchor Borrower Programme in Kebbi state.
Augie, who confirmed this during an interactive session with the newsmen in Birnin Kebbi, alongside other executive of Anchor Borrowers noted that the programme had impacted the economy of the state.
”70,000 registered rice farmers have benefited from the pilot scheme with cash and inputs (cumulative N210,000 including inputs), when President Buhari launched the Anchor Borrowers Program in November 17, 2015 , prior to the launch of the program, we achieved 1.5 million metric tons in the first year and since then the output keeps on increasing. Interestingly, our harvest has now reach 3.5 million metric tons which represent above 150 percentage, “said.
He said the development recorded in the scheme had triggered not only local investors but foreign investors from Mali , Cameroon, Niger and Benin republic to come to Kebbi state to buy paddy rice in addition to the spring up of modern Rice Mills big and small across the state.
The chairman however lamented that inspite of the tremendous success recorded by the program in different sectors of the state especially in the rice value chain, attraction of investment as well as food sufficiency in the state and Nigeria at large, some mischief makers under the guise of a political party and civil society organisation mischievously alledged that the ABP loan was diverted and misappropriated by Kebbi state Government and the loan did not reach the targetted farmers.
Augie commended both President Muhammadu Buhari for initiating what he described as ‘ rice revolution in Kebbi State’ and Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu for providing the needed political support for the program to succeed even beyond the shores of the state.
‘In Kebbi State has largely been successful in achieving economic diversification through the rice value chain, increased rice production, curbing importation of foreign rice as well as creating job opportunities to our teaming women and youths in Kebbi state, ” said.
The Branch Manager of the Bank of Agriculture(BOA), Kebbi State, Alhaji Aliyu Zurmi, said N12. 8 billion Anchor Borrowers was disbursed to RIFAN members through the bank.
He maintained that the state government had nothing to do with the disbursement of the loan which the BOA disbursed to registered farmers across the 21 local government areas in the state.
“We disbursed the loan ourselves, the state government has no hand in it; it just served as guarantor for the famers,” Zurmin said.
An official of the Anchor Borrowers in the state, Alhaji Abubakar Bello Udulu, explained that N12.8 billion was what was transferred to Bank of Agriculture for disbursement as loan to the rice farmers in the state not N17 billion.
”70,000 rice farmers were targeted in the pilot phase of the program , 12..8 billion was disbursed to registered farmers in cash and inputs through the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) with each farmer under the arrangement cultivated one hectare of rice and got pumping machine, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and cash which in total amounted to N210,000,” he said