Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, on Thursday, reiterated the apex bank’s readiness to make cheap funding at 5 percent rate available to farmers in the country to procure agricultural processing equipment.
Emefiele, who equally said the CBN would soon shift from financing primary agriculture to processing, declared that the apex bank was ready to support any ideas and concepts capable of growing the agricultural sector of Nigeria.
The CBN governor spoke at the launch of Ogun State MITROS Ofada rice, held in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.
The rice packages were in 50kg, 25kg, 10kg, 5kg and 1kg.
The event was attended by the Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Agricultural Commodities and Production and Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State, top government functionaries, farmers associations, traditional rulers and representatives of financial institutions.
Emefiele noted that agriculture remained the best way to grow Nigeria’s economy, provide food and jobs and lauded Ogun State for actualizing President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s vision to make Nigeria food sufficient.
He noted further that the production of rice by Ogun State would help the country in reducing foreign exchange spending on rice import, urging the state government to venture into other food commodities with a view to help Nigeria eat what it grows.
“I am extremely delighted to witness this giant stride of Governor Amosun. 12 months ago, myself, Kebbi State governor and the Minister of Agriculture, as part of the FG’s efforts to revive agricultural commodities, visited Ogun. We saw farmland, rice plantations, fish ponds, and the governor promised us that we would soon be invited to see the strides of the state in agriculture.
“I think Ogun State government and the people deserve commendation, as the state continues to demonstrate support for FG’s efforts to create jobs, and grow the economy. Any nation who is not serious with agriculture is doomed. CBN will continue to support anybody that wants to grow agric sector. This step by Ogun State will help in stemming the demands for forex to import rice and we will eat what we grow.
“We presently focus on primary agriculture, we will soon shift focus on the processing. We are ready to provide cheap funding at not more than 5% rate, to support those who want to procure farm processing equipment such as threshers, planters, harvesters and so on. I hope many more states would soon invite us, to see their agricultural pyramid and other efforts to revolutionize agriculture in Nigeria”. Emefiele submitted.
On his part, Governor Bagudu disclosed that of 600 million metric tonnes of rice being produced globally, only 10 million metric tonnes are being produced in Nigeria by 12 million rice farmers.
Governor Bagudu, who noted Nigeria had capacity to produce rice competitively, said efforts were being put in place by the federal government to increase local production of rice to an average of 50 million million metric tonnes.
He lauded the Ogun State Government for achieving the rice production, which according to him would make better quality, hygienic and fresher rice available to Nigerian, unlike the imported that has minimum of seven years of shelf life.
Chairman of Presidential Task Force, who declared that all the 36 states, including the FCT, have capacity to produce rice, tasked the Ogun state government on the need to venture into other areas of agriculture, particularly fish farming.
Speaking, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, said the launch of the rice was a result of six years of hard work of his administration, to further reduce Nigeria’s rice import.
Governor Amosun, who bemoaned the over-dependence on food import, which according to him, put pressure on Forex and reduce value of naira, assured that his administration, in conjunction with other states, the Federal Government and the private sector, would work vigorously to defeat food insecurity.
He, however, said that the rice was entirely planted, processed and packaged in rice plantations in the state, submitting the state would intensify efforts on rice production, to crash the high cost of rice in the market.
The governor, therefore, announced the price of the 50kg rice as N11,500, while the price of lowest 1kg was set at N230.