Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele has said that the federal government spent $2.41 billion dollars on rice importation between January 2012 and May 2015 stressing that the federal government cannot afford to continue to import rice.
Emefiele made this known at a stakeholders’ meeting with officials of Paddy Rice Producing states and Rice Value chain investors in Abuja.
He said that the importers of rice will no longer access foreign Exchange from CBN, Banks and Bureau De change for such importation adding that the country was spending huge amount to import things that could be produced locally.
He said that the apex bank would not continue to support the importation of such items through the use of the hard earned foreign exchange adding that the measures would prevent further depletion of the country’s foreign reserve.
He said the bank’s decision to ban foreign exchange for importation of rice; fish and other items would not be reversed.
According to him, the apex bank has no plans to reverse the ban, adding that the reason for inclusion of rice in the exclusion list was not far-fetched.
He said, “ Figures available with the CBN show that from the period January 2012 to May 2015, the country had spent over $2.41bn dollars on importation of this commodity.
“Unfortunately, this trend has resulted in huge unsold stock of paddy rice cultivated by our farmers and low operating capacities of many integrated rice mills in Nigeria.”
Emefiele said the CBN in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development would come up with a comprehensive financing model to support rice millers and other investors in the sector.
He said the banks decided to intervene in the sector through funding and other packages because the country would not achieve its true potentials if it imported everything it could produce locally.
Also speaking, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State promised that everything would be done to support the CBN intervention.
Bagudu spoke on behalf of the 10 major paddy rice producing states, Kebbi, Kaduna, Katsina, Jigawa, Sokoto, Ebonyi, Taraba, Zamfara, Nasarawa and Niger.
He said the states had enough capacity to produce rice that would help the country attain self-sufficiency as well as for export purpose.
He also assured producers that they would expand infrastructure, as well as provide the right atmosphere for people to invest in rice farming.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Sonny Echono, said the ministry was making plans to intervene in rice production in the coming season.
“We are proposing to the CBN to help us set up a fund for rice millers for our rice farmers, we will be making that recommendation to the CBN to facilitate a long term fund,” he said.
Earlier, the millers stressed the need to address some of the bottlenecks affecting the increase in rice production in the country.
They also listed some areas where they needed intervention to include: Investment in research, irrigation facility and stable rice policy, as well as the need to tackle issue of smuggling.
Others included bigger fields, funding, access to land, establishment of more rice mills and increase in capacity of existing mills in the country among others.

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