Journalist: With falling oil prices, there is an urgent need for economic diversification in Nigeria. So the government is focusing on other sectors such as Agriculture with the Central Bank’s initiative called Anchor Borrowers’ program. It is aimed at boosting Nigeria’s domestic rice production.
Reporter: It’s no longer news that the fall in the price of oil has affected most economies and the only option they have is to diversify. Nigeria is not an exception. One of the steps the federal government has taken is through the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ program to boost food production and also reduce unemployment which was launched in 2015. The CBN governor believes that Nigeria can cultivate and produce rice and wheat that should be enough even for exportation.
Godwin Emefiele (Governor Central Bank of Nigeria): This is just a pilot phase which we decided to conduct in Kebbi State. Under this program we had 78,000 farmers that benefited from the Anchor Borrowers’ program. All we gave them was just a maximum of 210,000 Naira to cultivate a hectare of land, and by the end of this year, Kebbi state alone will be able to produce one million metric tons of rice for Nigeria.
SEE – Rice Depot In Lagos
According to statistics, Nigerians consume about 5.5 million tons of rice annually of which 3.6 million tons are locally produced mostly by farmers for personal consumption. Currently, the Nation spends about 365 billion Naira a year importing the remaining 1.9 million tons and that is because local production is unable to satisfy the huge demand for rice in Nigeria, a situation that the minister of Agriculture is not pleased with.
Audu Ogbeh (Minister of Agriculture): Nigeria needs like 7 million tons, we need only 7 other states to do the same, the extra we can export. Why are we spending 5 million dollars a day importing rice from Thailand and Vietnam, what is it they can do that we can’t do? That is how we ran this country bankrupt with excessive almost mindless importation, toothpick, pencil, eraser, rubber band, handkerchief, envelopes, champagne, red wine, for God’s sakes. What do we do with our time we are almost 200 million people. This is the point.
Reporter: The amount spent on the importation of rice from India and Thailand have been on the increase over the years and if government keeps giving farmers the necessary support, Nigeria may well be on its way to self-sufficiency in this area.
Journalist: Now while Nigeria tries to grow more rice, nearly 3 million people in Malawi are facing shortages of all food as drought grips southern Africa. The government has declared a national disaster.
SEE – Rice Depot In Nigeria