Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), says it is fake news that Nigeria’s rice import has increased by 400,000 tonnes.
In a report last week, the CBN governor said he read that a United States agency said Nigeria’s rice imports had increased by 400,000 tonnes in 2018.
The Governor dismissed the report as “false and fake news”.
A week later, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) projects Nigeria will import 400,000 tonnes of rice in 2019, becoming the second largest importer of rice in the world, after just China.
“China and Nigeria are projected to remain the largest rice importing countries in 2019, followed by the EU, Cote d’Ivoire, and Iran,” the USDA report , seen by TheCable, read.
“Nigeria and Egypt are projected to account for the bulk of the 2019 import increase.”
EMEFIELE AND CBN’S POSITION
Speaking to this situation at the 2018 Nigeria Investment Conference hosted by the Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) Society of Nigeria in Lagos last week, Emefiele said Nigeria has imported only 25,000 tonnes of rice in 2018, dismissing the projections.
“I was reading a report where the United States said the volume of imports of rice increased by 400,000 tonnes,” he said.
“I am not a politician, but people should be very mindful when they open their mouths to say what is untrue because we would come out as central bank to attack it particularly if you use data incorrectly.
“I seize the opportunity to say that it is untrue. The data that we have today shows that rice imported legally into the country is less than 25,000 tonnes in 2018 so far.
“Then how come an agency which has not been to Nigeria or even been to the farms to see what we are doing, just come up and say that Nigeria has imported 400,000 tonnes above what it normally should import?
“Go to the data of countries that export rice, you would see their data; you would find the quantity of rice imported by Nigeria. This is false and fake news.”
The CBN, under the leadership of Godwin Emefiele, has invested heavily into the Anchors Borrowers Programme put in motion in collaboration with the Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government.
According to the CBN and the federal government, over N100 billion has been invested into the scheme for the cultivation of rice, wheat, sorghum and many other farm produce.
The CBN says over 800,000 farmers have benefitted directly from the scheme, which has been responsible for a drastic fall in Nigeria’s rice imports.
The bank insists that not a single dollar has been awarded for the import of rice since 2016.