The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has disclosed that Nigeria, with the current surplus of rice production maintains the ban of importation as it is set to beat its year 2017 target of self-sufficiency.
The Minister, who was represented by his Ministry’s Director of Planning, Musa Alhassan, stated this at a roundtable meeting of Rice Supply Chain of the Agribusiness Supplier Development Programme jointly organised by the Ministry, the United Nations Development Programme and the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending in Minna.
Audu said the strategic implementation of government programmes would help reduce post harvest losses. He said: “We are now rice sufficient in the country. “By 2017, Nigeria will be self-sufficient in rice production.
“We are getting close as there is improvement on what we have been getting before. “This will boost our economy. “The ban of rice importation by the Federal Government remains as there is currently surplus across the country.
“This means, there is result and it shows that the farmers and all government’s policies are aiding agriculture produce.” Audu further disclosed that the bulk of the rice consumed in the country is imported and has over the years exerted undue pressure on the country’s scarce foreign exchange.
Accordingly, he said: “This, of course, was the result of our inability to produce sufficient paddy rice to meet the demand processors. “But the strategic implementation of the programme would lead to an increased availability of domestic agro-inputs supply, enhance production and reduce post-harvest losses, support the private sector and create market linkages.”
Earlier, the United Nations Development Programme Nigeria Team Leader, Robert Asogwa, said rice and cassava are the two major crops considered for their enormous comparative advantage across the Nigerian states since they can generate economic multiplier benefits.
According to Asogwa: “We, as a country, have to revamp the economic situation and we know that if we get it right with rice and cassava as the two key crops, it will ease the problem of foreign exchange, reduce poverty massively and create job employment across all age groups.”
Asogwa however called for the strengthening of efforts to create more linkages between small holder farmers and off takers within the value chain to undertake a supply chain diagnostic, which will yield very useful outcome for improving and repositioning of the rice value chain as a major driver of the country’s economy.