Before the end of 2017, Nigeria will begin to export rice to other countries, the Central Bank of Nigeria has said.
The Acting Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okoroafor, said this on Tuesday during a sensitisation/awareness programme for farmers in Bayelsa State under the apex bank’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
Okoroafor, who said the ABP had started yielding fruits, insisted that with the progress so far recorded by the CBN through its agricultural financing policies, the country would begin to export rice by next year.
He said already the rice harvest this year had exceeded projections, noting that if the tempo was sustained, by the end of 2017, Nigeria would not only meet its national demand, but would export the produce to other countries.
Okoroafor said, “We started a pilot programme in Kebbi State with 78,000 farmers, cultivating an average of one hectare, and that was when President Muhammadu Buhari launched the programme in March last year.
“The programme was to enable farmers to plant three times in year, two dry seasons cropping and one rainy season cropping. I am telling you now that Kebbi State has exceeded one million tonnes of rice.
“Not only Kebbi; Ebonyi State has keyed into it. We were there last week and Ebonyi is to give us over 1.2 million tonnes of rice in one year. They are harvesting now, they are bagging and they are milling. Nigerians are booking their Christmas rice in Abakaliki.”
He added, “Abia State has ordered rice from Ebonyi State. Other states are keying in. In Kebbi, Jigawa, Sokoto and Cross River, rice is coming up. Nigerians are planting and producing rice. You need to taste Nigerian rice; it is fresh; not the nine-year old rice from Vietnam, Thailand and India. Let us feed ourselves. Our rice is healthier; it is not preserved with chemicals.
“We have been to Anambra, Niger, Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto, Cross River and Ebonyi states just to ensure that this is not another talk show. We have seen the harvest of rice, which brought me to say that the harvest for this year has so far outstripped our projections.
“By the end of 2017, Nigeria will not only meet our national demand, which is between six and seven tonnes per year, but we will exceed it and we will have rice to export to other countries.”
Okoroafor urged the people of Bayelsa to look beyond oil, saying that the state was capable of feeding the country.
He said the CBN’s team came to the state to educate the people and ensure their full participation in its programmes.