Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, is optimistic that the nation will achieve self sufficiency in food production by 2017.
Ogbeh, who was represented by a Permanent Secretary, Dr. Shehu Ahmed, last week at a roundtable meeting of Rice Supply Chain of the Agribusiness Supplier Development Programme (ASDP) jointly organised by the Ministry, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), said the Federal Government has banned the importation of rice and there is currently surplus across the country.
According to him, this means, it shows that the farmers and all government’s policies are aiding agriculture produce, saying that there have been improvement in the production of food especially as strategic implementation of government programmes has helped in reducing post harvest losses in the country.
He added: “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 Federal Government had approved the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES) for input supply to farmers and the Ministry was working with the African Development Bank (AfDB) to reposition the Staple Crop Processing Zone.”
He hinted that rice value chain was topmost in the agenda in attracting both local and world class companies to invest in the sector, adding that the implementation of the Agribusiness Supplier Development Programme would lead to an increased availability of domestic agro-inputs supply, enhance production and reduce post harvest losses.
The minister reiterated the readiness of the Ministry to support and encourage the private sector to take the lead, giving assurance that government will provide the enabling environment through policy constituency, appropriate legislation and oversight to ensure effective diversification, import substitution and food security in the nation.
The Representative of the Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme, Dr. Robert Asogwa, said that there was renewed interest and priorization of rice production and processing by governments at the national and state levels.
He stated that rice and cassava are two crops with enormous comparative advantage across the country, which can generate economic multiplier benefits. Saying that improving productivity in agriculture required new strategies and creative solutions.
He said food self sufficiency, predictable foreign exchange earnings and stimulated industrial and manufacturing production would be achieved if the key supply constraints in the agricultural sector is addressed.
He maintained that the African Agribusiness Supplier Development Programme would improve the productivity of small holder farmers and link them to off-takers.
Meanwhile, the Niger State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Aliyu Abdullahi, said the state government was working towards developing the entire rice value chain to boost the quality of rice cultivated locally.
He said the state was endowed with abundant land, water and human resources that could be harnessed for increased productivity of rice to satisfy local demand and for exportation.
Source: The Sun News