Concise News Correspondents
The government of Cross River state has obtained N3 billion loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the establishment of state-of-the-art rice mill, Concise News gathers.
The state governor, Ben Ayade, made the disclosure on Thursday in Calabar after inspecting rice mills in Ogoja and Obudu. The governor was accompanied by CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele and Kebbi state governor, Atiku Bagudu.
The governor said the loan is being disbursed through the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme.
“The programme is aimed at upgrading small farmers to commercial farmers, thereby achieving the objective of stimulating the needed capacity to meet the nation’s increasing food needs,” the governor said.
Ayade said that when established, the mill would provide jobs and food security for the people of the state.
“Cross River is focused about being food sufficient; that is why the N3 billion loan the CBN gave the state has been set aside to set up rice mill.
“The 78,000 farmers that we will be working with, will have the benefit of processing all the rice they will harvest at the mill.
“At the moment 80 per cent of rice farmed in Cross River State ends up at Ebonyi mill and processed as Abakiliki rice.
“But all of that will stop with the intervention of the CBN loan through the Anchor Borrowers Programme,’’ he added.
The governor said that his administration had allocated 18,000 square kilometers of land for rice farming.
He said that the mill would be high tech to minimize waste and process broken pieces of rice into cereal for children.
Saboteurs resisting food sufficiency
In his remarks, the CBN governor Godwin Emefiele, predicted that with the transformation in rice production taking place across the country, Nigeria could become self sufficient in rice production by 2017.
“I was reading in the papers where someone said it will take us five years to be self sufficient in rice production.
“Rice farmers association has said that there are economic saboteurs hindering rice production. We all need to stand against them.
“I can tell you that we are going to rise above this and we will produce rice, tomatoes, wheat and other agricultural produce to feed our people.
“We do not have a choice but to move in that direction,’’ Emefiele said.
Forex restriction good for local rice production
The apex bank governor stated that forex restriction on importation of rice had encouraged local rice farmers to boost production.
He promised that the CBN would assist farmers who are interested in cultivating rice, cassava, palm, and other agricultural products.
Also speaking, Kebbi state governor, Atiku Bagudu, expressed happiness with the efforts being made by farmers across the country to make Nigeria food sufficient especially in rice production.
Bagudu is the Chairman, Presidential Task force on Rice and Wheat production.
He expressed confidence that with the level of financing from the CBN, Nigeria would be self sufficient in production of some crops and even commence export of such crops in less than one year.
Paul Eluhaiwe the Special Adviser to the CBN governor on Development Finance, said there are over 40 integrated rice mills scattered across the country.
“These rice mills will process at least 5 metric tonnes of rice per hour.
“The Federal Ministry of Agriculture will also provide medium scale millers for small and medium scale farmers in the country.”
Annual consumption of rice in Nigeria is put at over 6 million metric tonnes per annum while local production of the crop is put at 2.8 million metric tonnes.