Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has seen rice millers increase to 60 and counting — Emefiele

Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele says the number of rice mills in Nigeria has grown from less than 10, with a combined capacity of less than 350,000 metric tons, prior to the launch of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) in 2015, to over 60 integrated rice mills, with a combined capacity of about 3 million metric tons as of January 2022, with about 10 more mills scheduled to be commissioned later this year.

Mr Emefiele stated this on Tuesday at the inauguration of Garewa Rice Mill in Kano.

He urged rice mills in the country to embrace the bank’s backward integration initiative aimed at conserving foreign exchange reserves, revamping local production capacity and creating employment.

Emefiele stressed the need for rice millers in Nigeria to get involved in paddy production to guarantee sustainable supply of paddy to their mills and also complement the supply from the smallholder farmers through the CBN’s partnership with the Rice Farmers Association (RIFAN) and prime anchors.

According to him, the increasing number of rice mills, which were complemented by hundreds of small-scale mills located in every state of the federation, attested to the conducive environment the CBN had been able to create in the rice value chain through its initiatives and stakeholders’ collaboration.

While stressing the need to match the increasing milling capacity of rice nationwide with increased paddy production, Emefiele charged millers to take advantage of the ABP and the Private-Sector Led Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme (P-AADS) of the bank, which provide long-term financing option to millers to finance commercial farms, land development, irrigation facilities and other agricultural infrastructure that will enhance their respective production plans.

Also noting that the quality of milled rice in Nigeria could match most foreign brands, he expressed gladness that the bank’s collaboration with the fiscal authorities had helped to curtail the proliferation of Nigerian markets by sub-standard imported rice varieties.

He therefore enjoined Nigerians to heed the call of President Muhammadu Buhari to “produce what we eat and eat what we produce,” by patronising rice brands milled in Nigeria.

Continuing, Emefiele said the resuscitated Nigeria Commodity Exchange (NCX) will facilitate grading, sorting, quality assurance and storage infrastructure for key agricultural commodities and also enhance price discovery for smallholder farmers, adding that the exchange will provide aggregation hubs for millers to enhance paddy off-take and grow to providing futures for millers and farmers to lock in prices and operate under a controlled price regime.

In his remarks, Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje thanked the CBN governor for not only extending ABP facilities to Kano, but also assisting the state in the area of infrastructural development of facilities such as the Tiga and Chalawa hydro-electricity dam projects.

Jigawa State Governor Muhammad Abubakar eulogised the CBN governor for empowering youth and creating wealth in the country.

The promoter to the rice mill Isa Garewa commended Emefiele’s vision on initiating the ABP which has turned out to be the saving grace of Nigeria, especially with the outbreak of COVID-19.