The aggressive attention given to local rice production in line with agro-driven diversification of the economy by the federal and states governments has yielded unprecedented rise in local paddy rice production.
According to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, the production of paddy rice had increased from five million tonnes to 17 million tonnes in the last two and half years.
Making the revelation during a visit of the Plateau State Governor, Mr. Simon Lalong in Abuja, Ogbeh averred that with the rising productivity across several states that have embraced the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), the country would stop rice importation in the next six months.
Already, Lagos and Kebbi State rice, LAKE Rice has been approved by the government of Lagos State to be sold in malls and supermarkets to drive access to buyers.
Also, Imo Rice went into circulation on December last year as Benue, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi and other states are beginning to saturate the Nigerian market to suppress smuggling of foreign rice.
Elated Ogbeh told Lalong that “We can beat our chest a bit, since we came in 2015; we have moved rice production from 5 million tonnes of paddy to 17 million tonnes in two and half years”.
“And it is because Mr President led the way and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) joined hands in the Anchor Borrowers Programme and got money to the farmers at nine per cent interest rate.
“A total of N43 billion was loaned out to farmers and 293,000 farmers borrowed the money and they produced rice which sold for N193 billion.
“You can imagine an investment of N43 billion, yielding N193 billion.
“If this can be done in two years we have another three or four months, maximum six months and there will be no need to import rice because what we eat in Nigeria is seven million tonnes for now, the number is rising because our population is growing,’’ the Minister explained.