Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele on Tuesday said the Federal Government spent $2.41bn on rice importation between January 2012 and May 2015.
Emefiele told officials of Paddy Rice Producing states and Rice Value chain investors in a meeting in Abuja that CBN’s ban of foreign exchange for importation of rice, fish and other items would not be reversed.
He said, “Figures available with CBN show that from the period of January 2012 to May 2015, the country had spent over $2.41bn 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 bank decided to intervene in the sector through funding and other packages because the country would not achieve its true potential if it imported everything it could produce locally.
In his words, “The bank will make funds more accessible to farmers through some of its funding programmes such as the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme and the N220bn Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Development fund.
“The funds will be made available to rice farmers through the Microfinance banks at an interest rate of nine percent and any bank that charges interest above that rate should be reported to the CBN.
“We appeal to the state governments to provide land for the farmers on a large scale and we will work with them to clear some of these impediments.
“We are at a stage where we must feed ourselves and all hands must work to ensure this works.’’