By Shedrack Frank
The Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) on Tuesday said it’s Anchor Borrowers Programme for the promotion of Agriculture had set the country to begin exportation of rice by 2017.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Anchor Borrowers Programme of the CBN and the Presidential Committee on Rice Production launched in July had jointly set the target.
The Acting Director of Corporate Communications of the apex bank, Mr Isaac Okorafor, said this in Yenagoa at a sensitisation workshop for farmers.
The theme of the workshop is entitled: “Promoting Stability and Economic Development’’.
According to him, farmers in Kebbi, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Sokoto and Cross River states, among others, have already keyed into the programme, resulting in massive rice cultivation.
He said the country would achieve self-sustenance in rice production if the momentum was sustained, adding that the country should commence exportation of locally produced rice by 2017.
Okorafor said Kebbi State had already harvested one million tons of rice, adding that Ebonyi’s harvest had outstripped the earmarked production for the year.
“The development is encouraging and by the end of 2017, we will not only meet our national demand which is between six and seven million tons but have surplus to export.
“We must rid ourselves of eating foreign rice that has been stored for over nine years in Thailand, Vietnam and India. Nigerian rice is fresh and healthier.
“We should eat Nigerian rice provided for by the CBN Anchor Programme; 50 Kg of local rice is now N8, 000 in Ebonyi. Already, the Abia Government has ordered rice from Ebonyi for Christmas,’’ he said.
He further said: “What we have done with this programme so far is to create jobs through farming, especially for the unemployed youths.
“Nigerian youths must wake up, dust themselves up and join this worthy campaign.
“Remember that the status of our farmers is now better due to the support they are receiving as a result of government’s policy.
“Our currency is weak because we engaged in needless importation of all kinds of food stuffs, including tooth picks; the government is determined to stop this.’’
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.