Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele has disclosed that rice revolution has started in Nigeria.
The CBN governor also said the apex bank does not have foreign exchange to continue to support importation of farm produce, including rice, wheat, tomato and poultry products anymore.
“We in Central bank do not have foreign exchange to continue to support importation of these items. We need to be able to grow them since our land is fertile; our climate is good to support the growth of these products,” Emefile said while inspecting a CBN supported rice farm under the bank’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in Ugboro Bekwarra local government area of Cross Rivers state recently.
Reacting to a publication where it was said that it would take Nigeria another five years to achieve its target of self-sufficiency in Rice production, Emefiele said “I’m going to tell him that he has a bad news,” adding that “my selfish interest is because, there is no forest and because reserve is down; we need to be able to grow rice in Nigeria to feed ourselves. Not just rice, Cassava, Wheat, palm oil and even poultry products.”
According to Emefiele, the CBN has disbursed about N3 billion to the Cross River state government, which is meant to support the Anchor Borrowers’ Farmers that are involved in the programme. He promised that the apex bank is ready to assist more states and individuals that are ready to participate in its Anchor Borrowers Borrowers Programme for rice production.
The CBN initiated programme has helped to establish 50 rice farms of 40kilometres each, with a bi-annual production capacity of 4-5 tons per hectare in Cross Rivers since Novembers last year when President Muhammadu Buhari launched the programme.
Speaking during the national assessment tour of the farms in the state, special adviser to the CBN Governor on development finance, Paul Eluhaiwe said 40 integrated rice mills of about 5-metric tons per hour have been acquired to aid rice milling in the state. This was as he said, “we have 36 silos of storage capacity all over the country. We are working on a programme to be able to store up to 100 metric tons of rice that can last the nation for a minimum of six months if there is crisis in this country.”
At least, 2,183 farmers are said to have enrolled for the CBN/federal government intervention scheme in the state.
Delighted by the level of progress recorded in the state in rice farming, Emefiele assured them of the support of the CBN to make the programme grow bigger in the state. “Whatever support you need to make this programme grow from this level, the Central Bank of Nigeria stands ready to give you that support. Yes we are using our Micro Small and Medium Enterprise facilities to support these small farmers, we cease this opportunity to encourage large scale farmers of all farm produce that whetever they do along this line, you will receive our support,” he stated.
In his remark, the state Governor, Senator Ben Ayade told the delegation that “People of Cross River state support your Rice Anchor Borrowers’ programme. We support it fully. We support the dream of Mr. President Buhari who believes that this country should be self-sufficient in rice production.”
Professor Ayade said part of the N3 billion the CBN has given to the state has been set aside to set up “a very wonderful mill – mill that for the first time we have a mill that has a provision for vitamin 9 rice – so that the broken pieces can be vitamin to be given to children to make them grow tall and healthy”, saying that the mill will serve as an off-taker for all the rice that will be harvested.
“Because there had been no mill at all in Cross River state, 80 per cent of the rice that is grown used to be evacuated into Ebonyi state and processed from there and taken as Abakaliki rice; all of that will stop with the intervention of the CBN through this programme,” Ayade enthused, adding: ‘I believe that this farm is the beginning of their dream which President Buhari had conceived well with the support of the CBN Governor. I believe that we are in a right direction and success is our own.”
Kebi state Governor, Atiku Abubakar Bagudu who is also the chairman, national task force on rice and wheat said the visit was part of the national assessment tour by the presidential committee to determine the level of success so far in the state.
Commissioning Ayade’s 1000 htrs farm, which is located in Obanliku LGA of the state, Governor Bagudu applauded Ayade for leading by example. He expressed satisfaction at the achievements of the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in the state, saying that his delight was born of “the experimental work that is being done in Cross River state. Ayada is leading by example. This has shown that Cross River is going to give any state in Nigeria a good run.”
The minister for Agriculture, Audu Ogbe was represented by Alhji Aziz Muyiwa, Director Agric business in the federal ministry of Agriculture and rural development at the event.