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Upon FG, states’ investment claims in rice farming, no local rice in markets

An irony several Nigerians have found very hard to figure out remains the observed lack of local rice in leading Nigerian markets especially Lagos, upon all the efforts and publicity of the federal government’s investments’ in the trade.

In the last couple of years, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), through its Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) has pumped well over N100bn, but the impacts of the investments in virtually more than 20 states are yet to be felt in any Nigerian market.

When Lagos and Kebbi State partnered to develop Lake Rice, there were initial joy, but since this year, the excitement seemed to have disappeared as the product is nowhere to be found again.

Nigerians were informed in last week of December last year that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which is the brain behind massive rice farming across the country under the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) has put up a joint programme with Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RiFAN) that will work out modalities for crashing price of local rice from current N18,000 to between N6,500 and N7,000 before April next year.

This was made public by the National President of RiFAN, Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, in Abuja last year, but emerging signals do not support the claims any longer as there is no rice in the market not to talk of crashing any price.

Besides, several states including many northern states, Imo, Anambra, Cross Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Benue and even Ogun State lately have all joined the trending rice production spree, but smuggled rice still have sway across every market in Nigeria, Business Hilights Intelligence Unit (BHIU) report weekend has shown.

BHIU is an independent research consultancy unit in Business Hilights publications group.

Only last week, the federal government claimed, the number of rice farmers in Nigeria is currently being increased by five million people in order to enhance rice cultivation across the country.

Government averred that although rice farmers in Nigeria increased from five million to 12 million in the past two years, it was important to attract more people into the business so as to attain sufficiency in rice production.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this during a tour of some rice farms, stated that the government had commenced the cultivation of rice on additional 200,000 hectares of land in different states across the country.

He stated that 25 farmers would cultivate the crop on each hectare, adding that a total of five million farmers would be needed to work on the 200,000 hectares of farmland.

Ogbeh Rice farm
Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh leading the way with CBN Governor in a Rice Farm, yet, no local bags of rice in Nigerian markets

According to him, the initiative had commenced in Kano, where 31,000 farmers had been engaged by the Central Bank of Nigeria through the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme.

Mohammed claimed further that “We’ve grown the number of rice farmers from five million two years ago to over 12 million today. And there is a pilot scheme going on this season again with 200,000 hectares for the cultivation of rice. Now, each hectare employs 25 people; so that will have another five million people that will be added to the rice revolution.

“We want to make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice production and the fact that we are now growing the number of our farmers and we are reducing importation means that we are gradually getting to our target of self-sufficiency in food production.

“The cultivation of rice on 200,000 hectares has been flagged off and right now, about 31,000 farmers are being empowered by the CBN under this initiative in Kano this season.”

Mohammed stated that aside from Kebbi State, one of the most popular states involved the project, 31 other states were already planting rice in commercial quantity.

Continuing, the minister noted that “There are 32 states producing rice in Nigeria and the same model is being used, which is the CBN Anchor Borrowers programme. This programme provides the farmers with seedlings, farm inputs, extension and advisory services, among others. And we can see the result of this programme”.