- Â Nigeria to become net exporter of rice by 2018
Amby Uneze in Owerri
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has embarked on sensitisation of Nigerians, especially farmers, traders, artisans, and micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) on the procedures for doing business by obtaining loans to finance them to export their products to earn foreign exchange.
In one of such programmes held at the Prof. Dora Akunyili Development Centre in Awka, Anambra State, the acting Director, Corporate Communication at the CBN, Mr. Isaac Okoroafor said that the intention of the central bank was to create a platform for Nigerians to understand what the apex bank does especially her interventions in the real sector and how they can benefit from it.
He decried the dependency on foreign products and services even when Nigerians could produce such goods, especially in the food sector where â€œwe have become major consumers of foreign goods without the commiserate export to match the foreign exchange.â€
According to him, â€œwe are here to explain to the people some of our policies especially our foreign exchange policy and to make them realise that we have come to a point as a country where we must decide to produce what we eat and eat what we produce.â€
Okoroafor maintained that no nation could develop by depending on foreigners for its food needs, adding that the only way to grow the nationâ€™s economy and advance the country was to ensure that â€œwe apply our creative energies in innovation, in creativity to productionâ€.
He stated that Central Bank of Nigeria was ready to provide the financial support by way of loans at 9 percent interest to all Nigerians, especially the creative, enterprising and hardworking people of Anambra State to enable them produce, add value, even to export and make money to better their lives and to bring up their children.
Furthermore, he said the CBN has all kinds of loans; for manufacturers, for agriculture (smallholder farmers, medium size farmers and even commercial agriculture). We have loans for artisans, for those who are engaged in cottage industries, for those who sell recharge cards, mechanics, vulcanizers, beauty salon operators under our MSME development fund scheme.
â€œWe have loans for fresh graduates who are still doing their Youth Service or who have finished Youth service in the last five years. All that is required of them is to go through our Entrepreneurship Development Programme, where they will be given a short training to understand what they would be going and how to write business plans, and the only thing that is required is for them to show passion for what they want to do and for them to deposit their Certificates as collateral.
â€œWe have also established a National Collateral Registry (NCR) where you register your moveable assets, so that people can get micro loans by using what they already have to obtain loans and still be using their assets at the same timeâ€, he noted.
On the 41 items which the CBN had banned from accessing forex from its window for their importation in order to promote indigenous products, Okorofor stressed that it is foolhardy for a country to spend scarce foreign exchange to import what the country could produce such as rice, eggs and toothpicks, etc.
â€œWe reserve our foreign exchange for critical inputs that will bring back the production lines in factories that would support the farmers to grow more food. Those are our critical needs. We have for the first time in many years reversed the nationâ€™s misfortune in rice production to the extent that by the end of next year Nigeria would become a net exporter of rice.
â€œWe have done it in Kebbi, it is going on in Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Kano, Sokoto, Jigawa. In Ogun State we have it in fish. So our Anchor Borrowers Programme tries to set up a process that will enable farmers get the most critical inputs and the best practicesâ€, he stressed.