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Unity Bank, RIFAN collaborate on Ekiti rice project

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Unity Bank PLC has partnered the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) on the just-unveiled Ekiti Rice Pyramid Project.

The collaboration follows the bank’s support to 900,000 smallholder rice farmers across the country to access the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).

The launch was a follow-up to the unveiling of the rice pyramid project in Kebbi State and Gombe State for the take of the scheme in northwest and northeast respectively.

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Over 278 metric tonnes of rice paddy were on display at the Ekiti event, which was attended by several stakeholders, including the Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, and the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele.

Unity Bank said it has provided additional funding to 500,000 rice farmers across Nigeria in the wet and dry season farming in 2020.

Reflecting on the impact of the funding since the launch of the ABP, the Managing Director of the bank, Tomi Somefun, recalled that through a strategic partnership, the Bank financed about 273,000 smallholder farmers at the onset of the programme, which was then the largest single-ticket transaction in any CBN intervention programme in the agriculture value chain.

She said the bank followed up with the financing of additional 146,810 smallholder rice farmers in 2019, with the beneficiaries spread across 35 states of the Federation and the (FCT). The bank sustained the momentum in 2020 by extending additional funding to over 500,000 smallholder farmers in 2020, in line with the bank’s commitment towards supporting rice farmers, the chief executive added.

Somefun, who was represented by the Regional Manager, Southwest, Adenike Abimbola, commended the apex bank for sustaining the ABP, saying it was important to boost food production and attain self-sufficiency in food.

“We urge the beneficiaries of the intervention programme to utilise the inputs judiciously and repay the loans to ensure the sustainability of the Programme… We remain optimistic that RIFAN under the able leadership of the National President, Aminu Goronyo, will continue to educate its members on their roles and responsibilities under the ABP.

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