Nigeria’s Central Bank has expressed optimism that come 2017, Nigeria will begin exporting rice to other countries. The Acting Director, Corporate Communication, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okoroafor, made the assertion on Tuesday during a sensitization/awareness program for farmers in Bayelsa State on the apex bank’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
“We started a pilot program in Kebbi State with 78,000 farmers, cultivating an average of one hectare and that was when President Muhammadu Buhari launched the program in March last year.
“The program 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 tons 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 tons of rice in one year. They are harvesting now, they are bagging and they are milling. Nigerians are booking their Christmas rice in Abakaliki.
“Abia State has ordered rice from Ebonyi State Government. Other states are keying in. In Kebbi, Jigawa, Sokoto, Cross River, rice is coming up. Nigerians are planting rice, 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 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 of rice for this year has so far outstripped our projections.
“By the end of 2017, Nigeria will not only meet our national demands which are between six and seven tons per year, but we will exceed it that we will have rice to export to other countries.”