The Buhari led administration said Nigerian farmers would begin exporting rice in months.
The statement was made on behalf of the president by the Acting Director, Corporate Communication of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Isaac Okoroafor.
According to Okoroafor, “Out of 6.1 million tons of rice needed to feed Nigerians, Kebbi State farmers alone produced over one million tons.
Okoroafor said the Apex bank is set to increase loans to rice farmers. The farmers in reaction said they are yet to be able to access the funds. In response, Okoroafor stated that “From the N220 billion, we are doing what is called the Anchor Borrower Program. We have just completed a pilot project in Kebbi State on rice and other states like Ebonyi, Taraba and Benue are queuing up.
“The Buhari led administration have realized that when farmers borrow money on their own to plant tomatoes, rice, cassava, and other farm produce, after harvesting, nobody take the produce from them and the market is lean too.
“For instance, when rice farmers farm, grow and harvest their produce, imported rice deeps any profit they may get. Rice importation has dealt a deadly blow on Nigerian farmers,” Okoroafor said.
In response, the Federal Government is coordinating an effort geared towards organizing rice farmers into groups and linking them up with millers.
Another strategy is to give rice farmers lands, funds and fertilizers. “At the onset, each farmer is given one hectare of land, and supplied seedling, fertilizer and other agro chemicals. Out of the N220,000 loan for each farmer, only about N70,000 is given as working capital. The rest is used to procure seedlings and all the other needs,” Okoroafor said.
Recall that in November last year, President Muhammadu Buhari launched the CBN Rice Farmers Loan Scheme in a gathering of farmers and some Governors of rice and wheat producing states.
President Buhari stated that “The program has been designed as a one-stop-solution for agricultural value chain by creating economic linkages between farmers and processors to not only ensure a clear agricultural output but to also reduce dependence on imported food.”