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Enugu/CBN partnership empowers rice farmers

Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo, (right) in a handshake with one of the beneficiaries of Enugu State Government/CBN Anchor-Borrowers Programme, Igwe Ben Eze, while the anchor person in the state, Rev. Fr. Paul Obayi, (2nd right) looks on during the presentation of rice farming facilities to the beneficiaries at Michael Okpara Square, Enugu State, Thursday.
Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo, (right) in a handshake with one of the beneficiaries of Enugu State Government/CBN Anchor-Borrowers Programme, Igwe Ben Eze, while the anchor person in the state, Rev. Fr. Paul Obayi, (2nd right) looks on during the presentation of rice farming facilities to the beneficiaries at Michael Okpara Square, Enugu State, Thursday.

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, under its pet project, Anchor Borrowers Programme, in partnership with Enugu State Government has made further disbursement of credit facilities/inputs to Okunerere Rice Farmers from Nsukka zone of the state.
A similar gesture was extended to rice farmers’ cooperative groups from Enugu zone when the programme was flagged off last week Friday at Okpara Square, Enugu.
Speaking at the occasion, Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Hon. Cecelia Ezeillo, described the project as the miracle of five loaves and two fishes, noting that farmers in the state were already recording tremendous bumper harvests with yields of up to 5.5 metric tons per hectare.
He said that the programme would without doubt stimulate rice paddy production in the state as well as enable all rice processors in the state to get sufficient feed stock for their rice processing mills.
Governor Ugwuanyi noted that the beauty of the programme was the fact that the farmers would not need to look for market to sell their rice paddy as the ‘off takers’ Okunerere Mills, Tara Agro Industries Ltd and others with subsisting MOUs with the state government would purchase all rice produced by the farmers.
He commended the initiative and stated that when fully operational in two years, it is expected to drastically reduce food importation, diversify the country’s economy and create jobs for women and youths.
He, therefore, enjoined CBN to extend the gesture to other commodities such as Cashew, Poultry, Banana, Pineapple etc, while entreating the farmers to abide by all the agreements reached with the rice processors and the banks so as to ensure the successful implementation and sustenance of the programme.
Speaking earlier, the representative of the CBN Governor at the occasion, Chief Charles Enwerem, said that the choice of Enugu State as one of the pilot states for the programme derives from the fact that it is the highest rice producing state in the South Eastern part of the country.
The programme, he pointed out, is aimed at reducing the country’s huge food import bill of over N1trillion annually by encouraging farmers to go back to their farms, stating that it hopes to establish a linkage between farmers and processors in order to ramp up capacity utilization at the integrated mills.
He stated that CBN under the scheme had mapped out the sum of N40.0 billion out of N220.00 billion Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF) to be availed to farmers at single digit interest rates of 9.0 percent per annum, while small holder farmers were entitled to loans ranging from N150,000 to N250,000 to assist them in procuring necessary agricultural inputs.
Rev Father Paul Obayi, the priest in charge of the Okunerere Farmers Group, in his response, thanked the governor of Enugu State Rt. Hon Ugwuanyi for his support and visionary leadership, stating that he was the one that made the inclusion of his group in the scheme possible.
He promised that given the financial and logistics support from CBN and the state government he was targeting to raise one hundred thousand rice farmers in Enugu state with enough capacity to make the state self sufficient in the production of rice.
The highlight of the occasion was the distribution of rice seedlings, bags of fertilizer, weed killers and cash to the farmers.

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