At Awka during a three-day sensitisation workshop for the people of Anambra State, the Acting Director, Corporate Communications of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said that Nigeria would meet its 6.1 million tonnes rice demand by the end of this year’s harvest season.
He said the feat was made possible by the apex bank’s intervention through the Anchor Borrowers programme, which, according to him, added 2.1 million tonnes of rice to the national output in the first year.
He said: “Nigerians are rising up to the occasion. In Kebbi State alone, over a 100 farmers are taking part in our Anchor Borrowers programme. There are so many of them across the country and more and more states are cuing in. For the first year of operation of the Anchor Borrowers programme, it added 2.1 million tonnes of rice to the national output and that is what brought the national output close to 5 million tonnes.
“Our national demand is 6.1 million tonnes and you can see that that gap will be closed in the first one year. In some states there are three harvests a year, one wet season and two dry seasons. By the time we conclude that of this year, we hope that we will be very close to target if not beyond it.
“We have for the first time in many years reversed the nation’s misfortunes in rice production to the extent that by the end of next year, Nigeria will become a net exporter of rice. We’ve done it in Kebbi. It is going on in Anambra. It is going on in Enugu, Ebonyi, Kano, Sokoto, Jigawa, Ogun State. So our Anchor Borrowers programme strives to set up a process that will enable farmers get the most critical inputs and the best practices and so more than tripple their output and it is working.
“Now we talk of Anambra rice. We talk of Ebonyi rice. There is Lake rice, which is a collaborative effort between Kebbi and Lagos State. Our farmers are rich again. Every farmer that is taking part in Anchor Borrowers programme is a millionaire today because we stopped selling foreign exchange for the importation of rice last year. The price of rice rose last year and our farmers rose to the occasion and started making the money. It is better that we create jobs here than creating jobs abroad where we import those things.”
He further said the CBN policy of reserving foreign exchange for critical inputs that would bring back the production lines in factories and support the farmer to grow more foods, helped to raise value of the naira.
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