[News] Nigeria gradually becoming self-sufficient in rice production, says CBN

Mr Chuks Sokari, the Branch Controller, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Awka, on Wednesday said the country was gradually becoming self-sufficient in rice production going by its availability during the Yuletide.
Sokari said this during a town hall meeting in Awka with stakeholders involved in the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme for rice production in Anambra.
He said the key role played by stakeholders in the country, especially in the state, contributed largely to the increase in rice yield in 2016.
“I am confident that through this CBN programme, rice production will double in this country.
“By extension, this is sure to reduce poverty among small-holder farmers.’’
The branch controller said the state had accessed N2 billion as at December 2016 from the programme’s funds.
He said that farmers could access the funds as a group of between five and 20; but they must open an account with any of the participating banks in the state.
“From what is in the programnme, each state is expected to bring up a crop that has some production advantages.
“On the basis of that, they can approach the CBN through the participating institutions for funding.
“However, the loans must be repaid within five months through the produce,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Afam Mbanefo, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mechanisation, Processing and Export, said the CBN funds would scale up activities in the state’s agricultural sector.
Mbanefo, who was represented by Mr Jude Nwankwo, said the ministry had concluded plans to double yields this year for export which would also conserve foreign exchange.
Also, Mr Andrew Oseloka, the Branch Head, Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporative (NAIC), urged farmers to indemnify their farms against damages like fire, flood, drought, pests and rice diseases for quick recovery.
In his remarks, Mr Emmanuel Agwuncha, the State Coordinator, IFAD-assisted Value Chain Development Programme, said 10, 000 rice farmers would be registered for the CBN initiative in 10 local government areas.
Agwuncha said the farmers would be trained on good agronomic practices, business management and cooperative principles and dynamics in rice farming.
According to him, the town hall meeting is aimed at sensitising stakeholders on the modalities and approaches required of them to access funds from the CBN anchor borrowers programme.

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