Nigeria should export, not import rice
From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that Anambra State has the potentials of becoming not only Nigeria’s food basket, but also providing food for the African Continental and beyond.
Consequently, the apex bank charged the state to bring to bear its excellent performance in commerce to agriculture to make the dream become a reality.
Stating this in a speech he delivered on behalf of the Director, Development Finance Department of the CBN, during the flag-off of Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) in Anambra State, the bank’s Branch Controller, Awka Branch, Mr. C.M. Sokari, assured the state that the ABP would contribute in no small measure to realizing the goal of the state becoming a food basket.
He noted that several intervention programmes have been floated by the CBN in collaboration with the Federal Government to diversify the nation’s economic base away from crude oil, adding that ABP was launched by the apex bank to reposition agriculture in the scheme of things in the country.
“To fund the programme, the CBN had set aside N40 billion from the N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund for farmers at a single-digit rate of nine per cent.
“…Nigeria, as we may all know, is a mjor rice producer with over 20 key rice producing states in the country most of which cultivate during both wet and dry seasons. Rice is one crop in which the country has comparative advantage to easily become self-sufficient, given the huge potentials that exist.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria has set the ball rolling and shown commitment to this programme and, therefore, expects that farmers and all relevant stakeholders in Anambra State would reciprocate by contributing their very best towards ensuring the successful implementation of this laudable programme,” he said.
Sokari commended Governor Willie Obiano and his team for the laudable achievements the state has made and his support for agriculture and agricultural developmental programmes, including taking a bold lead in the export of vegetable to Europe and other Western countries.
“I, therefore, enjoin us all to embrace this programme and collaborate with both the CBN and the state government in ensuring that in the next few years our great country Nigeria will no longer be one of the world’s highest importers of rice, but a net exporter of the commodity,” he said.
Micro Finance Expert with Rural Finance Institution Building Programme (RUFIN), Mr Adamu Ibrahim, in his remarks said the main focus of RUFIN was on the people at the bottom of the pyramid, noting that 70 per cent of the Nigerian population live in the rural areas and are mostly famers.
“The ABP for rice in Anambra is peculiar in the sense that all the partners have interest in RUFIN. First of all Anambra State is a RUFIN participating state, not only participating, also financially. In fact, in all our states only Anambra State is current in payment of its counterpart funding,” he said.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mechanization, Processing and Export, Mr Afam Mbanefo, in his speech described the Anambra governor as an agro friendly executive, stressing that Governor Obiano had supported all the innovations being put in place by his ministry.
He disclosed that the position of the government was to make sure there was a safe playing ground for the farmers in the state to participate in the programme, to retain the state brand and heritage, which is the Anambra State rice, to engage the youths and empower the farmers.
Mbanefo assured the CBN of the cooperation of the farmers and urged the apex bank to extend the ABP to other agriculture sectors.