Some women rice farmers and millers in Ebonyi State are seeking inclusion in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to boost rice production, processing.
CBN’s ABP scheme was flagged off by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 to create economic linkages between over 600,000 smallholder farmers and reputable large-scale processors with a view to increasing agricultural output and significantly improving capacity utilisation of integrated mills.
The CBN also set aside N40 billion from the N 220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund for farmers at a single-digit interest rate of nine per cent for participants in the scheme
Mrs Benedict Nwankwo, a rice miller and seller at the state’s local mill said support of the scheme would encourage women to complement the production.
“I am 35 years old. We sell rice and we get N5, 000 to N10, 000 daily, if the market is good. The business helps me to train my children in both secondary and primary schools.
We want the government to give us inputs like fertiliser, pesticides and accommodate us in ABP so that we can cultivate more rice.
“We have heard about this Anchor Borrowers’ Programme but we have not benefitted from it.
“We want the CBN to accommodate us in this programme so that we can be encouraged to boost our production and process of rice.
Mrs Nneka Ugbo, a local rice miller and seller, told NAN that support from the government through the ABP scheme, would help women make more profit from the business.
“I have two children and I trained them from this rice business. I also intend to further my education from this business. We get N3, 000 to N4, 000 from our daily sales.
“This is not an easy job but we are doing it to help ourselves. We farm and sell rice because we can collect and cook for our family.
“Even though I am too young to do this business, I will continue because I do not want to steal. I only want to make ends meet,’’ she said.
Mrs Roseline Nwotoke, a worker at the Igboko Ebonyi Modern Rice Mill in Izzi Local Government Area, said that she was currently building a house from proceeds of her rice job.
“I package rice here and they pay me on a daily basis. We want the Federal Government to support us so that we can do more,’’ she said.
In an interview, Mr Joseph Ununu, the Chairman, Chairman, Abakaliki Rice Mill Owners Association in Ebonyi State, said the state government through the association had compiled a list of rice farmers that would benefit from the CBN’s ABP scheme this year.
“Last year, ABP did not favour us but this year, we will fit in.
“All financial members of this association, who we know that when loans are given to them, they will pay, we have included them on the list of people to benefit from the ABP,’’ Ununu said.