CBN approves N15.7bn for additional rice mills; Nigeria retains Africa’s biggest economy

In a bid to reduce foreign exchange spending on food importation through enhanced funding for agriculture, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has approved funding for additional rice mills in the country. Meanwhile the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh has said that the federal government may soon stop importation of rice into the country given the increased rice production across the country facilitated by the CBN backed Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).

The duo spoke in Awka, Anambra State, alongside, Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano and Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar Bagudu while fielding questions from journalists during inspection tour of the 2,600 hectares rice plantation of Coscharis Farms. The rice plantation is one of the rice projects funded through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme of the CBN, which is aimed at boosting food production in the country. Under the programme, the CBN has provided N15.7 billion loan to 76,251 smallholder farmers producing and supplying rice to five private anchors (rice millers) in five states.

Ogbeh commented on the Coscharis rice plantation saying, “As we go round we began to have great confidence in our country. I think Nigeria’s independence is just beginning to be established because unless a country can feed itself and feed well, every other dream can’t be fulfilled. This is amazing. I have seen similar things in Kebbi and I am seeing this big one. I am very proud of Coscharis and the effort the Governor is making to support him. In another year, we will have no need to import one grain of rice into this country. In fact we may stop rice importation sooner than that. It is final word I am telling you, because Nigerians have proven that they can do it and I am proud that I can see this thing in Anambra. “The rice sector alone will take care of two million people before we began to satisfy our needs of 8 million tonnes. This is heavily mechanised, the smaller farmers don’t have all these machineries but they contribute immensely. So jobs, jobs and jobs, the millers are there, the marketers, the transporters, the distributors, all of them will be part of this business, just for rice. We have not even talked about cassava, or maize, or sorghum, or millet, beans, yams so the future is huge, the jobs are there.”

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