The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) have concluded plans to distribute 27,000 metric tonnes of rice paddies directly to millers nationwide from Thursday.The move is aimed at reducing rice prices in the wake of rising food inflation in the country.

Market research shows that a bag of rice (local) rose from N19,000 to N22,000 while foreign (imported) rice now cost N25,000 from N21,000.

In a statement on Tuesday, Osita Nwanisobi, the CBN’s acting director of corporate communications, said the direct allocation from RIFAN warehouses across 16 federation states was sequel to the previous sale of paddy aggregated as debt payback under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) to millers from rice pyramids unveiled in Niger, Kebbi, Gombe, and Ekiti states.

He noted that Kaduna state has been selected as the key location for the paddy allocation exercise which will be done simultaneously in the states that recorded the highest quality of rice harvests during the last farming season.

The CBN spokesman explained that the new strategy was in line with the bank’s mandate of ensuring price stability and its focus of being a people-centered central bank.

He also expressed optimism that the allocation of the paddies would trigger a decline in the prices of rice in the Nigerian market, boost availability, and ultimately check the activities of middlemen seeking to create artificial scarcity along the supply chains.

According to the CBN, pyramids of rice paddies will be unveiled in the federal capital territory (FCT), Ebonyi and Cross River in the coming weeks.

In January, the apex bank had in conjunction with relevant agencies, triggered the release of about 300,000 metric tonnes of maize from strategic anchors under the ABP which was reported to reduce the prices of maize from N180,000 per metric tonne.

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