The CBN governor said this in Niger on Friday.
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, has advised that the N365 billion set aside for rice importation annually should be invested in massive rice production.
Mr. Sanusi made the remark at a lecture titled “Exploring Central Bank of Nigeria’s special intervention in agriculture for the transformation of Nupeland’’.
The lecture was held at the IBB University in Lapai, Niger State, to mark the Nupe Day celebrations on Friday.
The governor, who was represented by the Bank’s Director of Development Financing, Paul Nduka, decried low funding of the agricultural sector in the country. He said there were lots of funding packages initiated by the bank to encourage agriculture, saying the low budgetary allocation for agriculture was not good enough.
Mr. Sanusi said gross under-funding and low budgeting for the agric sector was contrary to the Maputo declaration which set 10 per cent of budget for agric sector.
“Gross under-funding has also been the bane of the agricultural sector and posed a major challenge. The allocation to the sector of less than four per cent of the federal budget since 2006 is not appropriate.
“It is contrary to the 2003 African Union (AU) Maputo Declaration which directed member-countries to increase investment in the agricultural sector to at least 10 per cent of the national budget,’’ he said.
The Central Bank governor said the absence of basic infrastructure and amenities in the rural areas has contributed to the poor condition of living of rural dwellers. He said this had invariably impeded investment in the agriculture sector.
Mr. Sanusi said the potential and the strategic location of Nupeland and its comparative advantage in the production of rice, sorghum, maize and fish was an asset.
“These show that Nupeland is capable of providing adequate food for Nigeria and other African countries,’’ he said.
He recalled that in the 80’s, rice from Nupeland was very popular in Nigeria.
The CBN governor then called for investment in the value chain of rice production in the area, saying the potential should be revived in the interest of the nation.
Also speaking, the Estu Nupe, Yahaya Abubakar, stressed the need for unity of purpose in Nupeland for the development of its agriculture potential.
He assured the apex bank management that his people would utilise the available opportunities in the bank’s agric packages to improve their agric output and incomes.