The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) have on Thursday flagged off the sales of nine million metric tonnes of paddy rice in 16 states of 5the country.
Speaking during the event held in Kaduna, on Thursday, RIFAN President, Alhaji Aminu Goronyo said, with nine million metric tonnes of annual rice production, Nigeria can now be said to be self-sufficient in rice production and ready for export.
According to him, this was possible and achievable only due to the courage, commitment and patriotism of rice farmers who remained on the farm despite the security challenges.
He said the flag-off was directed by President Muhammadu Buhari through the CBN to cushion the effect of the current rising prices of foodstuff, saying, at the end of the day the cost of rice will be drastically reduced.
The RIFAN President disclosed that the sales of the paddy which is ongoing in 16 states of the Federation were being sold at a subsidized rate of N190 per kilogram to millers, to enable them to 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 the 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 a 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,” he said.
On 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 an 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 an 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 be reinvested in other value chains.