FG Saves $5.49b from Rice importation
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has said the Federal Government saved $5.49 billion from rice importation between 2015 and now.
Speaking on the achievements of the sector in the last three years, he said Nigeria’s rice paddy production significantly increased thereby leading to the reduction in rice importation by 95 per cent in the last three years.
He said: “We have reduced the quantity of rice coming in through our ports by 95 per cent which amounts to saving of about 5 million dollars a day and all this happened between December 2015 and now.”
According to him, Nigeria is currently producing between 5.8 million and 6 million tons of paddy rice and the number of paddy farmers in the country has risen from 5 million to 12.2 million and by the end of this planting season the number will increase to 9 million tons per annum by 2019.
“We are between 5.8-6 million tons of paddy rice, the number of farmers growing paddy has risen from 5 million to 12.2 million, more are coming in as we clear more lands for them and arrange irrigation facilities. By the end of this farming season, we should be approaching 8 million tons of paddy which will give us roughly 6.5 million tons of processed rice and we hope that by this time next year we should be targeting 9 million tons of paddy, but irrigation has to come on board because as long as we depend on rain-fed agriculture we will have difficulties achieving that target,” the minister added.
Ogbeh said there are 27 large scale rice mills and over 5,000 small-scale rice mills presently in the country processing rice to international standard.
He further noted that aside the impact of the rice revolution, there are other sub-sectors of agriculture such as maize, sorghum, millet, cassava and yams that production has increased in the last three years thereby contributing to the growth of the economy.
“Today, Nigeria is the largest producer of maize in Africa, 10 million tons and this is according to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. We are the second largest sorghum producer and the third in millet, we are still leaders in yam way above everybody else because nearly 66 per cent of all the yam in the world are grown here and we are now putting a foot in the international trade in yams. We are also leaders in cassava, but we are not doing well enough in cassava processing and value addition and we are number four in cashew nuts out of which we earned $700 million this year.
“The biggest news probably is what Nigerians have done for which we remain eternally grateful, the response of Nigerians to the call by President Muhammadu Buhari to return to agriculture is unparalleled particularly among young people; the youths are everywhere getting involved in agriculture; youth who before now, had no interest in agriculture because it was a drudgery and wasn’t attractive.”
He said a time will come in the country when politicians will not find people coming to their houses to beg for handouts but the politicians will have to go to the farms to beg farmers and convince them to leave their farms and to attend political rallies.
“A time is coming in the very near future when politicians will not find people rushing to their homes to collect handout but will have to go to farms and villages to beg voters then democracy will become quite serious because you will have to be able to convince them that you have something you have done for them before or you going to do for them to persuade them to attend your rallies,” he said.