Nigeria has launched an Anchor Borrowers Programme for rice and wheat farmers to advance their status from small holder farmers to commercial or large growers.

At the launch of the programme in Kebbi State on Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari expressed optimism that the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme had a potential of creating millions of jobs and lifting thousands of small holder farmers out of poverty.

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Under the programme, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is setting aside 40 billion Naira out the 220 billion Naira Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund to be given to farmers at single digit interest rate of maximum nine per cent per annum.

President Buhari told the gathering of farmers and some Governors of rice and wheat producing states in Nigeria that the Federal Government would favour the programme because it squarely aligned with the government’s aspiration to achieve food security for Nigeria.

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“The programme has been designed as a one-stop-solution for agricultural value chain by creating economic linkages between farmers and processors to not only ensure a clear agricultural output but to also reduce dependence on imported food.

“I am hopeful that the programme will be a way that small holder farmers are financed across the country.

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“Rice is assumed as our major staple food in Nigeria.

“In 2014 total demand for rice was 6.1 million metric tonnes. Out of this number, 2.6 million metric tonnes was produced locally while the rest were imported.

“Nigeria has the resources to support the production of some agricultural crops, including rice,” the President stressed.