The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has assured that rice importation into Nigeria will come to an end in 2017. This is because “the Federal Government’s massive rice production programme has made huge impacts on the nation’s rice supply”, he explained.
The Minister made this disclosure while speaking over the weekend at a joint Anchor Borrowers Rice Farm inspection with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele and the Governor of Niger State, Alh. Abubakar Bello, at Sunti, Lavun Local Government Area of Niger State.
He further stated that the government was putting measures in place to ensure that farmers are provided with more improved seedlings in addition to extending the programme to many more states so as to meet up with the set objectives of providing food security in the country.
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The governor of CBN in his own remark, expressed satisfaction with how far the Anchor Borrowers Programme has gone, saying it was a major strategy towards the drastic reduction of the level of foreign exchange which the country wastes on rice importation and other foods.
“We were convinced at the CBN that the nation was wasting foreign exchange in the importation of food items that we can conveniently produce at home. That was why we chose specific crops such as rice, wheat, soya beans and cotton as the immediate target of the programme.
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“The results are there for all to see that indeed, the decision to grow the food that we eat in the country makes a great economic sense. By growing our food at home, rather than import them, we create jobs for our people, create wealth and conserve foreign exchange for other uses.”
Speaking further, Mr. Godwin Emefiele revealed that the government has already released about N2 billion to farmers as well as other players in the value chains of the selected crops, adding that Nigerians now have more nutritious home-produced food to consume as opposed to the consumption of imported rice which were stored in warehouses for many years.
While he made it known that the Anchor Borrowers Programme was introduced by the apex bank with the aim of ensuring economic development by making credit available to individuals and industries in the agricultural industry at single digit rates, the CBN boss also promised the released of more funds for the purchase of harvesters and rice mills for members of the benefiting cooperatives and other Nigerian businessmen who have interest in the food producing sector.