*CBN Spends N23b To Improve Local Rice and Soya Bean Production.
With clear indications that Nigeria may finally be on the way to meeting its rice consumption needs, some foreign countries are already displaying dissatisfaction and mounting opposition.
This is as farmers across 13 states are starting near the end of wet season rice production with the help of N23bn loans provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
A few weeks ago, the Ambassador of a European nation led a delegation to the office of the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, complaining that Nigerians had been importing stock fish from his country long before independence.
According to Tribune sources, he lamented the decision of CBN to exclude the commodity from those that were eligible for importation with foreign exchange sourced from official window.
Emefiele bluntly informed his guest that while his country had over $1trillion in its foreign reserve, Nigeria as at then had just about $25bn and challenged him to arrange for business people from his country to come to Nigeria and develop the wide coastal line from Lagos to Calabar.
Also, the European Union has placed a ban on importation of beans from Nigeria on the pretext that it contained “too much chemical.”
Former Deputy Governor of CBN, Dr. Obadaih Mailafia told Tribune that the move was a direct consequence of the action of the CBN and Federal Government to attain self-sufficiency in food production and curtail unnecessary imports.
During an inspection of wet season rice harvest in some areas of Kebbi on Sunday and Monday this week, Emefiele gave the assurance that Nigeria would soon exit importation of rice.
According to him, farmers in Kebbi State alone have produced one million tonnes of rice currently being harvested aside the 1.2m from Kano and the 800,000 tonnes already harvested in Niger State.
Emefiele disclosed that N23 billion has been spent so far in promoting local farming and production of rice, soya bean, sugar and other important produce.
The CBN team visited Wasagu, Argungu, Birnin Kebbi and some other locations to inspect harvest and kick off dry season farming.
He added that Kebbi, Niger, Anambra, Calabar and other rice producing states would feed the nation and ensure availability of food items in Nigeria.
He said that the progamme which is going to be a continuous exercise will boost economic activities of the country and diversify the nation economy.
Annual consumption of rice in Nigeria is put at over 6 million metric tonnes per annum. Presently, local production is about 2.8 million metric tonnes. This is set to change for the better.