THE Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Anchor Borrowers’ Programme initiated on November 17, 2015 to boost the production of key agricultural commodities set off a major stampede in small-holder involvement in rice production in many states of the Federation.
After its second year, the CBN disclosed that about 300, 000 rice farmers from 20 states had embraced the programme which helped to refocus attention to the fact that Nigeria has the capacity to become a major rice producer and exporter in the world.
An innovative experiment which was widely applauded was the memorandum of understanding signed by the Kebbi and Lagos State Governments in which Kebbi would produce rice for sale in the mammoth Lagos market. It was branded LAKE Rice. The success of this experiment made many states to embrace the production of rice branded in the names of their respective states.
However, it soon became obvious that some state governors had brought politics and a bit of fraudulent practices into it when states that had no visible or meaningful presence in commercial rice production joined in the fad to brand rice with the names of their states.
Allegations arose that some of the states either imported rice and re-bagged/branded them or simply bought trailer-loads of rice from other states and branded them as though such rice was produced in their states.
Till date, there is no conclusive evidence that claims by some states to have made millions of dollars from vegetable exports are real.
It is very disheartening that some of our elected leaders of today will spare no effort to take false propaganda and fake claims even to areas that have to do with food self-sufficiency. We call on Nigerians to keep their eyes peeled and use every avenue at their disposal to expose these fakers.
The taste of the pudding, they say, is in the eating. The only way any state government can prove the veracity of their state brand of rice is to make it abundantly available and affordable within the local markets.
Those who import and re-bag under their state brands cannot sustain the fakery because they will run at a huge loss in the long run.
States that cannot produce rice in commercial quantity should go into the cultivation of other equally valuable agricultural commodities, such as cassava, cocoa, palm produce, millet, maize and others.
There is no need to fake it.