MINISTER of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, has described governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, as revolutionary in his economic management strategy.
According to Chief Ogbe, the CBN governor has etched his name in the annals of Nigeria’s economic management history as revolutionary with the rice revolution he started across the country.
He passed this vote of confidence on Friday during an inspection tour by the Presidential Task Force on Rice and Wheat production to several farms in Ebonyi State, a statement from CBN stated.
Chief Ogbe noted that the CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) on rice and wheat remains the greatest achievement of Mr Emefiele in the last 50 years of the CBN.
The Minister disclosed that there had been tremendous pressure on the government to import rice in order to meet the demand for the commodity, which was an indication that those mounting such pressure never believed that the ABP was working.
Chief Ogbe said that it does not make any economic sense to continue to spend scare foreign exchange resources on rice importation, when the country has huge potential to grow rice in commercial quantity, noting that each ship load of rice imported into the country displaces 12, 000 farmers from employment.
The Minister also stated that money coming to Ebonyi from other states that have placed order for Ebonyi rice will have significant impact on the wellbeing of the farmers and boost the economy of the state.
He said time will come that Ebonyi State will generate between N6 to N7 billion from local supply of rice, noting that successive governments were unable to create wealth among rural dwellers until now. According to him, the CBN ABP initiative under the leadership of Mr. Godwin Emefiele, is making rural dwellers rich.
While also commending Emefiele for managing the economy in the face of dwindling global resources occasioned by plummeting oil prices Ebonyi State governor, Austin Umahi, said “events like recession is not peculiar to Nigeria and you have done well to manage the state of the nation’s economy,” he added.
Umahi said Ebonyi wants to venture into dry season farming, but needs assistance. He said there are over 30 dams in the state, hence, needs CBN’s assistance in the areas of irrigation and financial support to farmers.
Kebbi State governor Alhaji Abubakar Baguda, said the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) is designed to help farmers and processors develop agriculture and its value chain.
He said in the last one year, a lot of successes have been recorded in agriculture through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
While noting that current rice output suggests that the goal of self-sufficiency in 2017 has already been achieved expressed hope that current efforts by federal and state governments with support from CBN will help farmers overcome their challenges.
Bagudu expressed appreciation to the efforts of the Ebonyi State government for keying into the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme as 50,000 farmers are slated to benefit from January next year
While further thanking President Buhari and the CBN Governor for the ABP initiative, assured farmers of access to input financing and the government’s continued maximum support to them.
The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr Emefiele said with the dwindling foreign reserve, the country could not continue to import rice, hence, the President Buhari’s directive to focus on agriculture especially rice production.
He thanked and appreciated the Ebonyi State government for responding to the President’s call despite lack of fund from the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
Though the farmers were unable to access the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) support due to challenges in registering the farmers, the CBN governor however reassured that with the dry season farming about to start, farmers in Ebonyi will access the facility.
Mr Emefiele said with the support and commitment of the Ministry of Agriculture, machines will be available to farmers for harvest in the coming year.
The CBN governor also assured the farmers that challenges such as irrigation funding will be addressed.
He said with support from the CBN and the Federal Government, the state government’s pledge to produce 400,000 metric tons of rice per cropping season, amounting to almost a million metric tons a year will be actualised.
Highpoints of the event was the Presidential Task force on Rice and Wheat visit to Ekaeze Rice farm in Ivo Local Government Area, Ikwo irrigation dam and Abakaliki Rice Mill.