Unity Bank Plc, an agriculture-focused bank, has partnered Nigerian rice farmers under the aegis of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) to unveil a mega rice pyramid at the National Rice Festival held in the Federal Capital Territory on Tuesday.
The event, which coincided with the flag-off of the dry season farming, was used to showcase the efforts of rice farmers in driving self-sufficiency in rice production through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).
Speaking to journalists at the event, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Unity Bank, Tomi Somefun, while going down memory lane on the support to rice farmers by the bank since the inception of ABP, commended the rice farmers for their unwavering belief and collaboration in the implementation of the intervention programme.
She added that as the Preferred Financial Institution (PFI) of the ABP, the Bank would continue to support farmers and ensure that more smallholder farmers get the requisite financial support to boost rice production.
She said: “Our strategic partnership with RIFAN started in 2018 when we financed about 273,000 smallholder farmers. This was the largest single-ticket transaction in that year. This financing cut across 33 states of the Federation including the FCT.
“In 2019, the bank increased the tally by financing another 146,810 smallholder farmers for the wet and dry season farming. This funding was cut across 35 States, including the FCT.
“Additional funding was granted to finance additional 221,450 smallholder farmers of the Association across the 32 states of the Federation including FCT for the wet season and additional 300,000 hectares was financed in sixteen states for the 2020 dry season cropping season.”
“As of March 2021, the Bank has financed no fewer than 190,000 smallholder rice farmers across 35 states including the FCT. The rice pyramids we see here today are an example of the resilience of the farmers and should be replicated in all states with a focus on the crop they have a competitive advantage.
“As we gear the programme towards deepening its penetration to reach more farmers, we encourage all beneficiaries of the Intervention Programme to always utilise the inputs judiciously to key into Federal Government’s goal of attaining food sufficiency, diversification of the economy from oil, job creation for the teeming youth and poverty reduction.
“We remain optimistic that RIFAN under the able leadership of the National President, Aminu Goronyo, will continue to engage its members to drive higher performance under the ABP.”