Chief Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), said that the production of rice paddy had increased from five million tonnes to 17 million tonnes in the last two and half years.
The minister made this known when the Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau visited him in Abuja on Thursday.
Ogbeh noted that the country would stop rice importation in the next six months to satisfy local demands.
“We can beat our chest a bit, since we came in 2015; we have moved rice production from 5 million tonnes of paddy to 17 million tonnes in two and half years.
“And it is because Mr President led the way and the Central Bank of Nigeria joined hands in the Anchor Borrowers Programme and got money to the farmers at nine per cent interest rate.
“A total of N43bn was loaned out to farmers and 293,000 farmers borrowed the money and they produced rice which sold for N193bn.
“You can imagine an investment of N43bn, yielding N193bn.
“If this can be done in two years we have another three or four months, maximum six months and there will be no need to import rice because what we eat in Nigeria is seven million tonnes for now, the number is rising because our population is growing,’’ Ogbeh said.
The minister expressed optimism that with the structures in place and the growth in local rice production, Nigeria would soon commence exportation of parboiled rice to Liberia, Ghana and Sierra Leone.