President of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Alhaji Aminu Goronyo, on Thursday said that with nine million metric tons of annual rice production, Nigeria is now self-sufficient in rice production with huge potential to export to the international markets.
The RIFAN leader made this disclosure in Kaduna when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and RIFAN flagged-off the sale of rice paddy to millers and also distributed farming machines, fertilizers and other inputs to rice farmers for the 2021 wet season farming.
Goronyo, who attributed the surging production of local rice to the commitment and patriotism of rice farmers who remained on the farm despite security challenges, said rice paddy currently being sold in 16 states was at a subsidized rate of N190 per kilogram to millers so that they can sell rice to consumers at affordable prices.
He explained that the Kaduna event was organized “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.
“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”, the RIFAN President added.
In his remarks during the event, the CBN Governor, who was represented by the Kaduna Branch Controller of the Bank, Mallam Ahmad Muhammad Wali, said rice farmers had made i efforts to repay the loan given to them and charged farmers in other value chains to emulate rice farmers to facilitate the re-investment of the fund in other value chains.