From Jibrin Miachi, Kaduna
All things being equal, hungry Nigerians will soon put their pains behind as both the federal Government, Central Bank of Nigeria and of course, the Practicing Farmers have struck deals towards putting food on their tables at cheaper rate.
This is squealed to directive by President Muhammadu Buhari who decried increasing cost of living to various organizations in relations to commence immediate positive actions.
In their prompt reaction, the Central Bank of Nigeia (CBN) and Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) at the weekend flagged-off the sales of nine million metric tons of rice paddy to millers.
Similarly, hey flagged-off distribution of implement, fertilizers and inputs to rice farmers for the 2021 wet season farming.
Speaking at the event in Kaduna, RIFAN President, Alhaji Aminu Goronyo announced that with nine million metric tons of annual rice production, Nigeria is now seld sufficient in rice and almost ready for exportation.
This feat he said was achieved due to the courage, commitment and patriotism of rice farmers who remained in the farm despite the security challenges faced in the farms.
According to him, the flag-off was directed by the President Muhammadu Buhari through the CBN to cushion the effect of the current rising prices of food stuff.
Speaking further, the RIFAN President disclosed that, the sales of the paddy which is ongoing in 16 states of the Federation was being sold at a subsidized rate of N190 per kilogram to millers, to enable them mill and also sell rice to consumers at affordable prices.
“We are here to flag-off sales of paddy at a subsidized rate to rice millers and directed by President Muhammadu Buhari through the Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele. And you can see the amount of paddy that we have on ground. And what you are seeing here is going on in 16 states of the Federation all in an effort to provide food for Nigerians, so that Nigerians will have quality and affordable food to eat.
“Before the coming of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration in 2015, we use to produce just about two million metric tons of paddy annually, but today, we can boast of nine million metric tons annually. There is a clear difference and we now boldly say that Nigeria is self-sufficient in rice.
“Since 2015, the Central Bank of Nigeria has made deliberate policy not to release forex to the importers of rice. That is to say that all the rice that we have been consuming in Nigeria since 2015 were produced locally”, Alhaji Aminu Goronyo.
Reacting to the security challenges, Goronyo said, “our members are dedicated, committed, courageous and patriotic Nigerians, because despite the security challenges, they have remained in their farms, producing food for our dear country. So, they deserve credit. But this is possible because, all the military and other security agencies like the Civil Defence, Police, Customs, Immigration and others are giving us support and that is why we are in our farms producing.
“We have subsidized the paddy that we are selling to the Nigerian Rice Millers through the CBN and we have confidence that as patriotic Nigerians, they will also sell to consumers at affordable rate. We have been assured by the Director General of the millers association that they will replicate our gesture by al also selling the milled rice to Nigerians at affordable rate.
“We have sold the paddy to the rice millers at N190 per kilogram as against the price range of N200 and N230 per kilogram sold elsewhere. The directive came from the CBN that we subsidized the price, so that, the millers can also sell to Nigerians at a cheap rate,” he said.
Flagging-off the programme, the CBN Governor, who was represented by the Kaduna Branch Controller, Ahmad Muhammad Wali said the apex has been supporting a lot of agricultural initiative to boost agricultural production in Nigeria.
He however expressed delight that, the rice farmers have made impressive efforts to repay the loan given to them and urged farmers in other value chains to emulate rice farmers so that, the money can reinvested in other value chains.