The current scarcity of foreign exchange confronting the country has been described as a good development for the Nigerian economy as local production of various essential goods is now being given top priority with positive outcomes.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who reiterated the assertion during the assessment tour of the farmlands cultivated under its anchor borrowers programme in Kebbi State at the weekend, said that agriculture is the bedrock of genuine economic growth of any nation and that Nigeria could not be an exception.
Emefiele, who commended farmers and the Kebbi State government for their determination and commitment in the scheme, noted that with the level of success attained in the pilot project in the state, in addition to the progress at Sunti Golden Sugar Estate in Niger, it is now a reality that the country can produce enough to feed itself and even export in no distant future.
Besides, Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, in his assessment of the programme in the rural areas visited by the team, said with Kebbi State alone targeting one million tonnes of rice out of the projected seven million tonnes required by the entire country, self-sufficiency in rice production is very much at sight by the time other 12 states identified as rice producing belts harvest their produce.
While commending the efforts of the CBN for reinventing agricultural practice into profitable business venture, the minister stated that rural areas remain the catalyst for sustainable economic development.
Meanwhile, the state governor, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, who stated that farmers in the state had been adequately mobilised towards attainment of the one million tonnes of paddy rice by providing them with necessary input as and when due, said with the assurance of availability of market for the produce, farmers in the state are already looking forward to the repayment of the loan facility extended to them at the beginning of the farming season.
While acknowledging the pivotal roles of both the CBN and the state government in provision of loans, irrigation equipment and fertilisers, he said the farmers now look forward to a bumper harvest.
The CBN governor noted that with 78,581 farmers mobilised in Kebbi State under the anchor borrowers programme and the disbursement of N4.9 billion as loans to the farmers, about 570,000 direct jobs have been created, while 70,871 of the rural farmers now own and operate bank accounts.