The Federal Government has restated its commitment to conserving its foreign exchange through an agricultural revolution, by providing cheap funding of about five per cent to farmers.
This position was made known on Thursday by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, in his remarks at the launch of MITROS Rice by the Ogun State Government, held at the MITROS Rice Mill, Asero, Abeokuta.
Emefiele noted that the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration considered agriculture as a sector that would grow the economy, hence its determination to continue to provide support to anyone or group of people ready to engage in agric-business.
He hinted that the administration had supported primary agriculture since it came to power over the last two and a half years, saying that the country would move from this primary stage to processing, harvesting, and milling of agricultural commodities.
Emefiele said, “I am happy today that under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, we are taking agriculture very seriously and that is the reason we at the Central Bank of Nigeria have made it a responsibility to say that we would continue to support any effort and anybody in an attempt to grow our agricultural sector.
“In doing this, we will provide food for our people; in doing this we provide jobs for our people; and in doing this, we grow our economy. This will go a long way to conserve our foreign exchange.
” We would no longer be spending foreign exchange to import agricultural produce. We would eat what we produce and we would produce what we eat.
” Now having supported so far what I call primary agriculture, the farmers would see to it that we grow rice, cassava. The next stage we would be embarking on is to begin to consider how we process the food; how we harvest the rice; how we mill the rice. We would be looking at providing cheap funding at no more than 5 per cent, for those who are going to be accessing facilities to acquire agricultural equipment like tractors, harvesters, or even those who want to go into fish farming.”
He commended the Ogun State Government for the giant stride recorded in the Agric Sector, that the rice pyramid was the first of its kind in the Southwest.
The CBN Governor added, “I am happy to be here to witness this giant stride demonstrated by the rice pyramid that is right behind me. The good people and Governor of Ogun State deserve a round of applause.
“Ogun State has continued to demonstrate the urge to support the focus of this government to create jobs and to grow the economy. A country that does not take agriculture seriously is naturally an unserious country.”
The Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Bagudu, said the present administration at the centre had been taken steps to revamp the agricultural sector so as to ensure food sufficiency.
Bagudu who is the Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Agricultural Commodities and Production, added that all the 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), have the capability of growing and produce rice.
The governor stated further that the country has the capacity to produce rice five times more than what it is currently producing.
“With rice, I believe we can achieve what we have achieved even with a commodity like crude oil, because around the world, about 600 million metric tons of rice is produced every year, and in Nigeria, we are still having a little less than 10 million.
” Our land size estimated by the Rice Farmers Association indicated that there are about 12million rice farmers. This suggests that even if an average yield per farmer is the modest 5 tons, that is we should be producing 50 million tons, not under 10 million tons we are currently producing. Nigeria has the ability to produce rice competitively.”
Governor Ibikunle Amosun in his address described the State as the home of massive production of Ofada rice.
He said there has been high demand for the local rice (Ofada), not only by the people of the state but the country as a whole.
” The production of MITROS RICE will, therefore, go a long way in making Ofada rice available, at affordable prices, for people’s consumption. I am pleased to note that this Rice Mill will produce not only parboiled rice but also a vastly improved brand of Ofada. Farmers Lament Government’s Insensitivity To Agricultural Development
“The new Ofada rice will be produced in a hygienic manner, and to high standards; and it will enjoy standardised packaging – in 1kg, 5kg,10kg, 25kg and 50kg bags – and bear the MITROS stamp of quality, signifying goods produced to the highest standards.
” You will agree with me that the absence of artificial inputs has made the domestically-produced rice natural and healthier for consumption than the imported rice. No doubt, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, wait until you taste this rice!” he added.