By Mustapha Sumaila
Abuja – The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it spent N146 billion to support 849,480 wet and dry seasons rice farmers across the country.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, gave the details at a meeting with some state Governors in Abuja on Thursday.
Emefiele said that the bank was working with other stakeholders to wage war against smuggling of rice into the country.
He explained that CBN had financed the construction of rice mills to support food self-sufficiency and security.
He said that Dangote Farms was also constructing five mills; two in Jigawa and one each in Kebbi, Zamfara and Sokoto states.
The CBN governor said that other rice mills funded by the bank included the WACOT and Labana Rice Mills in Kebbi State and Umza Rice Mill in Kano.
According to him, the CBN’s focus will remain on sectors that can create jobs on a mass scale.
He also said that the Bank would also pay closer attention at financing sectors that could help Nigeria to “reduce its burgeoning import bill and conserve much needed foreign exchange”.
“The bank will maintain a keen interest in supporting the creation of an enabling environment to trigger private sector investment.
“Our emphasis will focus on value chain financing in 10 priority commodities. These products have been responsible for a significant share of our country’s food import bill in the last couple of years,” he said.
Emefiele, who commended the Federal Government on border closure to address the issue of smuggling in the country, said that such steps had yielded positive result.
He said some farmers and millers in some parts of the country had complained of lack of patronage before the closure.
“But as soon as the borders were closed, they exhausted all they had in warehouses and did not have any in stock to supply their customers,” Emefiele said.
The Chairman of Governors Forum, Dr Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, thanked Emefiele for the stride recorded in agricultural sector, pointing out that it is now clear that the country is making a headway in ensuring food security.
Fayemi said that agriculture was the fastest way to create jobs for the citizenry.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Governors of Adamawa, Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kebbi, Lagos, Ogun, Sokoto, Katsina and Zamfara States attended the meeting. (NAN)