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CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ intervention boosts local rice output to 5m tones–Okoroafor

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The Acting Director, Corporate Communications of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Isaac Okoroafor, has revealed that the national rice output has risen to about 5 million tonnes.

Giving the insights in Awka, the Anambra State capital during a three-day sensitisation workshop for rice farmers said the progress is possible because of the bank’s sustained support using the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).

He also said that at the national level, ABP has pushed up rice output to about 2.1 million tonnes in the first year of the scheme.

In his remarks, Okoroafor said “Nigerians are rising up to the occasion. In Kebbi State alone, over a 100 farmers are taking part in our Anchor Borrowers programme”.

“There are so many of them across the country and more and more states are cuing in. For the first year of operation of the Anchor Borrowers programme, it added 2.1 million tonnes of rice to the national output and that is what brought the national output close to 5 million tonnes.

“Our national demand is 6.1 million tonnes and you can see that that gap will be closed in the first one year. In some states there are three harvests a year, one wet season and two dry seasons. By the time we conclude that of this year, we hope that we will be very close to target if not beyond it.

“We have for the first time in many years reversed the nation’s misfortunes in rice production to the extent that by the end of next year, Nigeria will become a net exporter of rice. We’ve done it in Kebbi. It is going on in Anambra. It is going on in Enugu, Ebonyi, Kano, Sokoto, Jigawa, Ogun State. So our Anchor Borrowers programme strives to set up a process that will enable farmers get the most critical inputs and the best practices and so more than tripple their output and it is working.

Okoroafor noted further that “Now we talk of Anambra rice. We talk of Ebonyi rice. There is Lake rice, which is a collaborative effort between Kebbi and Lagos State. Our farmers are rich again. Every farmer that is taking part in Anchor Borrowers programme is a millionaire today because we stopped selling foreign exchange for the importation of rice last year. The price of rice rose last year and our farmers rose to the occasion and started making the money. It is better that we create jobs here than creating jobs abroad where we import those things.”

He assured that the CBN’s ongoing policy of reserving foreign exchange for critical inputs that would bring back the production lines in factories and support the farmer to grow more foods, has helped to raise value of the naira.

Continuing, he averred that “As a country, we are facing a very critical shortage of foreign exchange arising from the economic crisis that started two years ago. At a time our naira crashed to over N520 and N525 to a dollar. That is not a good development for an economy like this. So what do we do? We decided that in order to meet the critical needs of the economy, we needed to prioritise the use of the foreign exchange that is available to us.

“As our foreign exchange reserves were depleting, we decided that we will no longer sell foreign exchange for the importation of those items that Nigerians can produce at home and that is the most logical and most reasonable thing to do,” Okoroafor, CBN’s spokesman added.


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