… as CBN Assures Farmers Of Low Interest Loans
By OLAJIDE OMOJOLOMOJU, Lagos and GBENGA ADEBOYE, Abeokuta
It was another giant stride by Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, in the agricultural sector Thursday, as the state launched what it called Mission To Rebuild Ogun State, MITROS Rice in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
The carnival-like elaborate event, which was held at the Farmers Market, Asero, had in attendance the Kebbi State Governor Abubakar Bagudu, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, former military governor of the state, Colonel Daniel Akintonde (rtd) and several royal fathers across the state, among who were the paramount rulers of Egbaland, Remo and Yewaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, Oba Babatunde Ajayi and Oba Kehinde Onileere respectively as well as the Iyalode of Yorubaland, Chief Alaba Lawson.
Welcoming dignitaries to the launch, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mrs Adepeju Adebajo, said that one of aims of the initiative was not only to eradicate poverty from among the people of the state, but also to improve their well-being and stop the dependence of the people on imported foreign rice.
She charged all indigenes of the Gateway State, and indeed all Nigerians to patronise the MITROS rice.
In his address, Governor Amosun, said Ogun State remains the industrial capital of Nigeria, following its determination towards improving and revamping the agricultural sector.
Governor Amosun, who launched about 110,000 bags of MITROS Rice, made up of Ofada and parboiled rice, produced, processed and packaged by the state government, further said his government was taking pro-active steps to provide infrastructural and agricultural demands for the influx of people relocating to the state from neighbouring states.
The governor added that his administration would continue to partner with the Federal Government and the organised private sector to actualize its vision to attain sufficiency in agriculture.
In his remarks, Kebbi State Governor Bagudu, who is also the Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Commodity and Production said the Federal Government in the last two and half years under President Muhammadu Buhari, assisted by his Vice, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and the CBN, has taken steps to ensure that the country’s agriculture sector is revamped.
Bagudu said the President graciously approved the establishment of a “Presidential Task Force” on rice and wheat to make Nigeria self sufficient in the production of those commodities.
He said, “For those who are conversant with Nigeria’s history, particularly at a time when we had a presidential committee to manage the importation of rice, this represents a paradigm shift for government that is visionary and committed to the Nigerian nation.
“I am pleased and I congratulate President Buhari because I’m sure he is going to be very happy with what is happening here today.
“Nigeria is indeed a blessed nation. All the 36 states of Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory, have the capability of producing rice. With rice, I believe we can achieve what we have achieved even with a commodity like crude oil, because around the world, about 600 million metric tons of rice is produced every year, and in Nigeria, we are doing a little less than 10 million.
“Our land size estimated by the Rice Farmers Association indicated that there are about 12million rice farmers. This suggests that even if an average yield per farmer is the modest 5 tons, we should be producing 50 million tons, not under 10 million tons that we are currently producing.
“Therefore, it is important for us all to mobilise and patronise Nigerian rice and Nigerian commodities because if anything, we know how they were produced, we know the executive standards. We know the freshness, compared to commodities we know relatively nothing about. This achievement wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
While commending the initiatives of the Ogun State government in the agricultural sector in his goodwill message, the CBN governor, Mr Emefiele charged other states across the country to emulate the economic developmental programmes of the Gateway State, in order to create job opportunities and strengthen our currency against foreign currencies.
The CBN governor, while advocating for the support of the Federal Government for the Ogun State initiative, said agriculture venture remains the only avenue to boost the nation’s foreign exchange, provide food and job as well as grows the economy.
He said, “Any nation that fails to take agriculture seriously does so at her own peril and it is in recognition of this that the CBN has taken it upon itself to support the agricultural initiative of the Federal Government.”
The apex bank governor assured farmers of improved low interest loans and called for improved cooperation from relevant stakeholders towards supporting the agricultural revolution of the Federal Government.
He also urged other states to emulate such initiative towards achieving self-sufficiency in the sector.
The MITROS Rice was packaged in bags of 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 kilogrammes and would be sold to members of the public at a subsidized rate.
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