By Peter Uwumarogie
Gombe, Jan. 7, 2021 Alhaji Musa Arab, a rice miller in Gombe State, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s renewed directive to stop issuing foreign exchange for the purpose of food importation.
Naija247news, reports that President Buhari had in Dec. 2020 reiterated his earlier directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) not to grant foreign exchange for food importation.
Alhaji Arab told Newsmen in an interview in Gombe on Thursday that such directive was necessary for the growth of the agricultural sector and the diversification agenda of the government.
According to him, the move by the Federal Government is commendable as it will help promote the policy of “eating what you grow and growing what you eat policy”.
“If we keep cultivating rice and Nigerians are not eating the rice, then who will?
“We must set example by eating what we grow just as Nigerians eat our beans lets also do with rice.
“This is why I commend Mr President for this good directive and all other policies aimed at boosting the agricultural sector.
“Today I am a proud agri-businessman while employing several youths too,’’ he said.
Arab stated that agricultural policies of President Buhari-led administration since 2015 had impacted positively on the agricultural sector particularly rice cultivation, processing and marketing which he said had helped reduce youth unemployment.
“One good policy was the border closure which pushed so many into farming especially rice cultivation.
“This is the reason when COVID-19 came and countries closed their borders we were still able to feed.
“If not for that wise decision by the Federal Government, Nigeria would have had serious food crisis on its hand and it would have been tougher for Nigerians in terms of food,’’ he said.
On the border re-opening, the rice miller said he had no fears as majority of Nigerians now understood the several benefits of eating local rice which according to him, is now better polished and refined.
Arab, who is also a rice farmer said the food security agenda of the Federal Government was on course as more investments were now being made in rice production.
“As a farmer I have expanded my base from Gombe to Taraba like many other farmers too.
“With these efforts, especially with the renewed efforts in dry season farming, we can produce rice to feed Nigerians.’’
He, however, decried the high cost of farming which was reducing the capacity of many farmers to cultivate more, adding that the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) was not getting to the real farmers.
According to him, if the ABP loans reach the real farmers as intended by the Federal Government, more farmers will be empowered and Nigeria will have better rice production statistics.
Arab recommended that the Federal Government should devise means of “leveraging simple technology such as the Dr Akinwumi Adesina’s model so that the loans and fertilisers can get to the real farmers,’’ he said.