By Ismaila Chafe
Counting their blessings as the year comes to an end, Nigerian rice farmers have confessed that they have been transformed from poverty to wealth.
The farmers attributed their fortunes to the Anchor Borrowing Programme which made many of them to improve on their inputs especially fertilizers, seedlings, and water pumps.
The owed their successes to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari which introduced the programme through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The Chairman, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, commended the administration for introducing the Anchor Borrowers Programme, which was inaugurated on Nov. 17, 2015, in Kebbi state.
“Mr President, with the Anchor Borrowing Programme many farmers have improved their inputs especially fertilizers, seedlings, water pumps etc.
“Farmers are benefitting from your administration because rice farmers have transmitted from poverty to wealth,’’ he said at a Gala Night organised by Rice Farmers in honour of beneficiaries of the Anchor Borrowers Programme at the old Banquet Hall of the State House in Abuja.
To this end, Goronyo, announced that the 12.2 million rice farmers had pledged their support for the re-election of President Buhari.
According to him, the farmers have contributed N100 each, amounting to N1.22billion, to promote and boost the Buhari/Osinbajo campaigns for the 2019 presidential election.
Goronyo urged the president to thank the Kebbi State governor, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu; the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele and the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, for their support to the farmers.
The President of the Fertilizers Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN), Mr Thomas Etuh, who also spoke at the event, lauded President Buhari for his efforts in the revitalization of the nation’s fertilizer sector.
He announced the contribution of the association amounting to N570million towards ensuring the re-election of the president in 2019 general elections.
President Muhammadu Buhari had also directed the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to commence the restocking of all its Strategic Grains Reserves nationwide
He said the directive had become imperative following the completion of a comprehensive survey on damages done to farmers and fishing communities in the riverine areas as a result of flood disaster.
He said the report indicated that over 160,000 farmers and additional 70,000 fishermen were affected by the disaster.
“For about three months the National Food Security Council working with the National Emergency Management Agency conducted comprehensive survey of the farmers, fishermen and livestock owners affected by the flood disaster,’’ he said.
President Buhari, who was honoured at the event with an award of excellence for his administration’s favorable policy that had impacted positively on the country’s agricultural sector, pledged that all the affected persons would be compensated to cushion their hardship.
He thanked the organisers of the event, and assured that the federal government would continue to implement policies and programmes meant to uplift the standard of living of the Nigerian farmers as well as boost food sufficiency in the country.
Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, who is the vice Chairman of the National food Security Council, spoke on the essence of the award given to the President Buhari by the rice farmers.
He congratulated the president for the award, and assured that Nigeria would soon commence the exportation of rice to boost the nation’s revenue base.
The CBN governor, Emefiele, in his contribution, said the Anchor Borrowers Programme had remained the most successful agricultural programme in Africa.
According to him, many African countries are now under studying the programme with a view to replicating the success in their countries.
“The program is changing the narrative of agricultural investments in Nigeria.
“It has brought the era of food security and sustenance leading to a cut in forex being used for importation of rice and other food items into the country,’’ he said.
He stated the programme had received support from stakeholders across the country including state governors.
The CBN governor revealed that the bank was also in partnership with other commodity associations who were working to reduce importation bills and to create jobs.
Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, who is the vice Chairman of the National food Security Council, spoke on the essence of the award to President Buhari.
In his remarks, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh, noted that Nigeria had remained the world largest producers of maize, cassava, yam and other staple foods due to the progressive agricultural policies and programme of the Buhari administration.
He stressed that the fortunes of farmers across the country had improved, adding that the farmers had told him that they would `reward’ the President in 2015.(NAN)