The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, on Tuesday said that with Nigeria producing about nine million metric tons of rice as of the end of 2021, the country has now become the highest producer of rice in Africa.
Emefiele said this in Abuja during the unveiling of the Federal Capital Territory mega rice pyramid under the Anchor Borrowers Programme of the CBN.
He said the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has catalyzed the rural economy and has built a sustainable framework for financing small holder farmers in Nigeria.
The apex bank governor added that the expansion in the production of rice has not only made Nigeria the largest rice producer in Africa, but has also unlocked enormous private sector investment in the rice value chain.
Specifically, Emefiele said that the number of Integrated Rice Mills has grown astronomically from six in 2015 to over 50 in 2021 with many more in various stages of completion.
The programme, according to him, has developed an ecosystem among all nodes of the agricultural value chain, adding that these linkages can be better optimized through synergy among all stakeholders.
The CBN Governor said that as at the end of December 2021, the apex bank has financed 4,489,786 farmers that cultivated 5,300,411 hectares across 21 commodities through 23 Participating Financial Institutions in the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT.
He said, “We are delighted that these efforts have yielded fruits in not just increasing the availability of rice, but also in moderating prices, reducing imports and increasing job creation in the country.
“For example, Thailand alone exported 1.3 million metric tons of rice to Nigeria in 2014. The ABP was launched in 2015 to curtail these imports, and since then, we have seen incremental reductions in rice imports from Thailand.
“By 2016, rice imports from Thailand had fallen to only 58,000 metric tons. As of the end of 2021, they only exported 2,160 metric tons to Nigeria, thereby saving us foreign exchange and helping preserve jobs in Nigeria.
“Beyond increasing our national output from about 5.4 million metric tons in 2015 to over 9 million metric tons in 2021, we have also significantly improved the productivity per hectare of the smallholder farmer from about 2.4 metric tons per ha in 2015 to between about 5 metric tons per ha in 2021.
“These expansions have not only made Nigeria the largest rice producer in Africa, but has also unlocked enormous private sector investment in the rice value chain as the number of Integrated Rice Mills grew astronomically from 6 in 2015 to over 50 in 2021 with many more in various stages of completion.”
He explained that currently, Nigeria’s milled rice can compete effectively with the foreign rice in quality.
He added, “Our experience over the years has been transformed to operational efficiency of the Programme. We have added several layers of controls to improve on transparency and accountability among all stakeholders and what you are witnessing today is a demonstration of our growth and a strong indication of the enormous potential in the Country’s agricultural space.
“It is important to note that this is still a far cry from the desired goal. However, the growth processes reaffirm our belief in the potential inherent in our agricultural space and we can hopefully harness them to lead the diversification agenda of the economy.”
The CBN Governor said the mega pyramids being launched today represents aggregated paddy rice submitted as repayment of loans by RIFAN farmers under the 2020 dry season and 2021 wet seasons.
Beyond the event, he said the ABP also symbolizes the efforts made by farmers to commit to loan repayment through produce submission and ultimately ensure the sustainability of the Programme.
To further create value and transfer these gains along the value chain, he explained further that the bank has mapped millers to off-take these paddies, noting that that the CBN will track the release of their outputs to the market so as to manage inflation and grow the rice value chain in Nigeria.