The Managing Director of Unity Bank Plc Mrs Tomi Somefun, said the has partnered the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) on the launching of the Ekiti Rice Pyramid Project in the South-West.
Somefun said the launch was a follow-up to the unveiling of the Rice Pyramid earlier in the year in Kebbi State, for the North-West and Gombe State in the North-East.
She said over 278 metric tonnes of rice paddy were on display at the event attended by several stakeholders in the rice production value chain.
According to Somefun, Unity Bank will provide additional funding to 500,000 rice farmers across Nigeria in the wet and dry farming seasons in 2021.
She recalled that through the strategic partnership, the bank financed about 273,000 smallholder farmers at the outset of the programme.
This, according to her, was the largest single-ticket transaction then in any Central Bank of Nigeria intervention programme in the agricultural sector.
She said that in 2019, the bank followed up with the financing of additional 146,810 smallholder rice farmers for the wet and dry season farming activities, cutting across 35 states of the federation and the FCT.
Somefun said the bank sustained the momentum in 2020 by extending additional funding to over 500,000 smallholder farmers for the wet and dry season farming activities.
She, however, commended the CBN for sustaining the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme initiative aimed at boosting food production.
She also enjoined the rice farmers to utilise their inputs judiciously and continue to show commitment to the government’s agenda of driving food security through rice production.
According to her, “we urge the beneficiaries of the intervention programme to utilise the inputs judiciously and ensure the sustainability of the programme by repaying their loans.
“They should appreciate the efforts of the government in attaining food sufficiency, diversification of the economy from oil, job creation for the teeming youths and poverty reduction.
“We also advise our farmers to imbibe good agricultural practice as it has been established that doing so would enhance yield and greatly increase farmers’ incomes.
“We remain optimistic that RIFAN under the able leadership of the National President, Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, will continue to educate its members on their roles and responsibilities under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme,” she said.