The Bank of Agriculture (BoA) on Wednesday disclosed that the Nigeria saved about $800 million on rice importation following the various initiatives of the federal, states, the CBN and private investors to boost the nation’s production capacity of the commodity in the past few years.

The bank’s Executive Director, Finance and Risk Management, Prince Niyi Akenzua, gave this hint at a media briefing in Lagos ahead of the “Meet the Farmers Conference” (MTFC) 2018 scheduled for Oct. 10 this year.

Akenzua lauded the Federal Government on its economic diversification agenda which focuses mainly on agriculture and urged Nigerians to key into the programmes in view of the multi-dimensional benefits to the country.

He explained that with the various successes being recorded by the government in the agric sector, the restructuring of the BoA in 2016 to enable it to 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) was well justified.

The banker said: “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 added

He noted rice production had increased to a level that people could never have imagined and that this explained why the government was targeting early next year to stop the importation of the commodity.

According to him, what is being done now by the government and other investors is to standardize locally produced rice as well as the packaging of agricultural produce to make them exportable to the international market.

Earlier in her remarks, a representative of Crenov8 Consulting , Mrs Bola Oyedele, hinted that Dubai imported over $100 billion worth of food from Africa in 2017, projecting that the figures are expected to rise to about $400 billion within the next eight years.

Oyedele urged Nigeria and other African countries to explore the abundant opportunities availed by as cocoa, rice, palm oil, wheat, gum Arabic and maize among others export crops 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.