The minister of agriculture and rural development, Chief Audu Innocent Ogbeh, has said Nigeria will stop importation of rice before the end of 2017, Daily Post reports.
He said this at an assessment tour of Coscharis Rice Farm in Anaku, in the Ayemelum Local Government Area of Anambra state.
He praised Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for their role in the country by giving a lot of credit support, and also allocating the scarce foreign exchange adding that once a country can provide for itself, then it can achieve anything.
“When we go round the country, we begin to have great confidence in our rich endowments and 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.
“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 of Anambra state 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 state.
“People who don’t know Anambra do not even know what potential sexist for agriculture. I am also proud of the role the CBN is playing because they are giving a lot of credit support, even allocating the scarce foreign exchange that we have to a critical sector like agriculture.
“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, of maize, of soghurm, of millets, beans, yams so the future is huge, the jobs are there,” he said.
Speaking at the event, the CBN governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said the bank was moved to support agriculture after the country ran into a situation where its reserves had been badly exhausted, due to massive importation of rice when indeed it can grow rice.
“We import tomatoes, when we can grow tomatoes, we are importing milk, when we can grow diary. We have people and companies in Nigeria that can take up the initiative, but we have been importing milk for over 60 years.
“There is a company that has been producing milk for 60 years, and I say it is time those kind of companies began to produce our diary in Nigeria,” he said.
Emefiele said the apex bank would continue to encourage investors like the Coscharis Group because of their commitment in the business.
Recently, the minister said the price of rice increased because of the excessive consumption by Nigerians.
Recall that a few months ago, the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC) banned the importation of rice into the country.
In a press statement issued on Tuesday, March 22, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd), gave the approval, going against the body’s initial policy in October, 2015.
The new directive may be in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s call for patronage of made in Nigeria products, a development which he says will reduce the rate of importation of foreign products.