Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
As part of efforts to encourage rice production in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), under its Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), has disbursed about N3 million to farmers in Cross River State Government, who are involved in rice farm cultivation.
This was revealed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele who was on assessment visit with the Presidential Taskforce on Wheat and Rice Production to one of the rice farm in the state recently. He noted that it was to ensure that the country becomes self-sufficient in rice production and be able to produce rice, tomato, wheat and other Agricultural products to feed the people.
According to him, I want to thank the Cross River State, particularly the governor for joining the train to say, let’s feed our people. I’m very delighted to be here and I say, we will do well; we just need to be patient.
“I was reading in the paper where someone said that it will take us five years to be able to become self-sufficient in rice, I’m going to tell him that it’s a bad news that, that person has because, in the same paper, the Rice Farmers Association themselves came out to say that economy sabotage are in rice production and that we all need to stand and rise against them.”
Emefiele stated that for the Cross River State Government, the CBN has disbursed close to about N3 billion Naira, which is meant to support the Anchor Borrowers farmers, who are involved and which rice farm cultivation we are commissioning.
He said: “And I am going to tell you that we are going to rise above all these and we are going to be able to produce rice, tomato, wheat and other Agricultural products to feed our people. We don’t have a choice but to move in this direction.”
He further explained that the federal government has not stopped the Importation of rice into the country but, “You see, the truth is that, not that we stopped the Importation of rice because we cannot say that we are stopping it but, what we have done is that, we have restricted foreign exchange allocation for those who wants to import rice and as a result of that restrictions, it has given a lot of encouragements to our farmers and not just through the Anchor Borrowers Programme.
“There are people who were into rice farming before Importation flooded our country. Now, everybody is beginning to jump into the game and they have beginning to see now that they can also be wealthy been rice farmers and that is the message we are trying to pass across.”
Speaking also, The Chairman, Presidential Taskforce on Wheat/Rice Production, and Governor, Kebbi State, Sen. Atiku Bagudu in while commissioning one of the rice farm said, I’m quite honoured to be in Cross River as part of the tour to see the effort been undertaken by the different states and how to be self-sufficient in rice production.
Atiku disclosed that, “Last year in November 17, President Muhammadu Buhari graciously launched the Anchor Borrowers Programme which is the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Assisted Initiatives to provide adequate financing to our Agricultural sector so that we can be self-sufficient in some crops so that we can even begin to export them especially those for which we utilise foreign exchange to import.
According to him, “A number of states, Anambra, Niger, Kebbi and today; Cross River. Cross River is home to me because, Prof. Ben Ayade, the Executive Governor and I, we are in the Senate together and we are friends and what we saw here is quite impressive and I am not surprised because I know when President Muhammadu Buhari came to Cross River, he has a disciple in Prof. Ben Ayade and he called and that he called for us to feed ourselves, I know, Cross River is one of those States that took that very seriously and what we are seeing here is an evidence of that.”
Responding, the Governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade said, for me, it is a great opportunity to work with my brother, his excellency, the executive governor of Kebbi State, Sen. Atiku Bagudu and my brother, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor.
“He has been a great inspiration to me. Traditionally, I have not been a rice farmer but, I know that my people do rice. Having listened to them, and having seen what the county’s roadmap is like and having listened to President Muhammadu Buhari, I was in Kebbi when the first launched took place and having listened to Sen. Bagudu, the governor of Kebbi State who has come along way and having lay their hands on it, i know it was in a right direction.
Ayade hinted that, “Cross River State is really focused and ensuring that this happened and that is why the N3 billion that the CBN Governor has given to the Cross River State has been set aside to setup a very wonderful and fantastic mill. A mill that will for the first time have a provision for vitaminized rice so that the broken pieces can be vitaminized and be given to children so that they can grow tall and healthy.
“So, Cross River State will not just have the 78,000 farmers that we are proposing and that are already on ground, but will also have a mill which will serve as an off-take for all the rice that they will be harvesting. That, way, everything will be rehearsed within Cross River State. I believe that we are in the right direction and success is on our way.
He explained further that under, the Anchor, “we deal with farmer, one hectare. As we speak, there are farmers on their own that has gone beyond one hectare. What we expect from a farm like this is a whole yield not less than five tons per hectare.