The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has said that the country will begin to export rice to other countries by the end of 2017.
The acting Director, Corporate Communication of the bank, Isaac Okoroafor, disclosed this on Tuesday during a sensitisation/awareness programme for farmers in Bayelsa State, to educate them on the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
Okoroafor said that the rice harvest this year had exceeded the projections, adding that if the tempo was sustained, by the end of 2017, Nigeria would not only meet its national demands but would export to other countries.
He 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 the 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 1.2million 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 said.
The CBN spokesman disclosed that “Abia State has ordered rice from Ebonyi State Government. Other states are keying in.”
He called on Nigerians to patronize the locally produced rice which he said was far healthier as it contains no chemical preservatives.
“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,” Okoroafor said.
He urged the people of Bayelsa State, as well as other Niger Delta States to take farming seriously and not rely only on oil.
“We have been to Anambra, Niger, Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto, Cross River and Ebonyi just to ensure that this is not another talk show,” the CBN spokesman said.
“We have seen harvest of rice which brought me to say that the harvest in rice for this year has so far outstripped our projections.
“By the end of 2017, Nigeria will not only meet our national demands which is between six and seven tonnes per year, but we will exceed it that we will have rice to export to other countries.”