The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) optimistic about its agricultural financing policies, has declared that Nigeria will begin to export rice to other countries before the end of 2017.
The CBN says its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) has started yielding fruits, adding that this year’s rice harvest has exceeded projections, and if sustained thus, Nigeria would not only meet its national demand, but would also export the produce to other countries by the end of 2017.
Acting Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okoroafor, made this known on Tuesday during a sensitization/awareness programme for farmers in Bayelsa State under the ABP.
In Mr. Okoroafor’s words:
“By the end of 2017, Nigeria will not only meet our national demand, which is between six and seven tonnes per year, but we will exceed it and we will have rice to export to other countries.”
Okoroafor disclosed that in March 2015, the CBN launched a pilot programme in Kebbi State with 78,000 farmers, cultivating an average of one hectare, aimed at enabling farmers to plant three times in year, two dry seasons cropping and one rainy season cropping.
According to Mr. Okoroafor, Kebbi State has now exceeded one million tonnes of rice while Ebonyi State has also keyed into it.
He further adds that Ebonyi state which is to produce over 1.2 million tonnes of rice in one year, are already harvesting, bagging and milling and Nigerians are booking their Christmas rice in Abakaliki.
In his words; “50 Kg of local rice is now N8, 000 in Ebonyi. Already, the Abia Government has ordered rice from Ebonyi for Christmas.”
Encouraging Nigerians to feed on fresh healthier rice that is not preserved with chemicals, unlike those from Vietnam, Thailand and India, Mr. Okoroafor says Nigerians are planting and producing rice to achieve self-sustenance in rice production.
He adds that other states like Kebbi, Jigawa, Sokoto and Cross River are keying in and urged the people of Bayelsa to look beyond oil, because the state is capable of feeding the country.
The Branch Controller, CBN, Yenagoa, Mr. Oke Nwajah, said the state was blessed with rich wet soil that supported rice cultivation. He, therefore, urged the farmers to take pride in farming, adding that the Anchor Borrowers Programme was an intervention to reduce their burden.