The Bank of Agriculture (BoA) on Wednesday disclosed that the federal government has saved about $800 million by encouraging local production of rice in the country.
Niyi Akenzua, the Executive Director, Finance and Risk Management, BoA, said at a media briefing in Lagos ahead of the “Meet the Farmers Conference” (MTFC) 2018 scheduled for October 10 in the nation’s commercial hub.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the conference, which is organised by Crenov8 Consulting, is aimed at exposing African farmers to the opportunities in agro-export, especially to Dubai and other Middle-East countries.
Mr Akenzua commended the initiative of the government to diversify the economy with special focus on agriculture, urging Nigerians to key into the programmes because of their all-round benefits.
He said the government restructured the BoA in 2016 to enable it render critical assistance to the agricultural sector in terms of food security and increased export of agro-products to boost the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“The Central Bank of Nigeria facilitated a N250 billion intervention fund for the BoA which is being disbursed through the Anchor Borrower’s Programme.
“In 2017, we disbursed about N100 billion to farmers and we have also disbursed about N50 billion so far in 2018,” Akenzua said.
He said rice production had increased to a level that people could ever imagined and that the government was targeting early 2019 to fully stop importation of rice.
Akenzua said emphasis was being placed on standardising and packaging of agricultural products from Nigeria to make them acceptable to the export market.
Earlier, Mrs Bola Oyedele , a representative of Crenov8 Consulting, said Dubai imported over 100 billion dollars worth of food in 2017 from Africa and it is expected to rise to about 400 billion dollars in the next eight years.
Oyedele urged Nigeria and other African countries to tap into the huge opportunities that exist to export various agricultural products such as cocoa, rice, gum arabic, palm oil, wheat, maize among others to Dubai particularly and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
She said participants at the conference will be exposed to a wide range of topics such as agro commodity trading in Dubai and GCC, import and exports requirements, laws and policies, financing, shipping and insurance among others. (NAN)