July 14, 2014 – Nigeria’s President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan said on Monday that rice production in the country has peaked such that there are signs that it will surpass the 2015 target of 20 million metric tons by December, 2014.
The President who spoke at the inauguration of Olam Integrated Rice Mill in Nasarawa State, said that over the years farmers have produced over 17 million metric tons of rice, adding that the 2015 target will be met this year.
“Over the past three years, our farmers have produced over 17 million metric tons of food. Steadily on this path, we expect to surpass our 2015 target of 20 million metric tons of food, by the end of this year. Now with better policy articulation and enhanced technology, our farmers, small and large, are all being touched by the new drive for food production across the country”, he said.
He said that government is committed to continue to reduce our food importation bill to the barest minimum.
“To demonstrate our commitment, I am glad to report to Nigerians that from a total food import bill of One trillion, one hundred billion naira (N1.1tr) ($6.9billion dollars) as at 2009, we have reduced our food import bill to Six hundred and eighty four billion, seven million naira (N684.7billion) ($4.35billion dollars) as at December 2013.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, Nigeria must be self-sufficient in food production. In this regard, our rice production programme has continued to receive very focused attention. I launched the national dry season farming policy last year, so that we can grow two or three cycles in the year, instead of only once each year. It is encouraging that our national paddy rice production has grown by an additional 7 million metric tons within three years. This is remarkable but we have to work harder still”, he said.
He recalled that when he launched the Agricultural Transformation Agenda in 2011 the goal was to add an extra 20 million metric tons of food to domestic food supply by 2015.
“Our progress in this direction has been remarkable. The innovative electronic wallet system has empowered 10 million farmers with access to subsidized high quality seeds and fertilizers. We were the first country in Africa to launch this system that has now assured greater transparency and better productivity in the sector”, he said.
He explained that the mills are producing high quality local rice that meets international standards, and competes well with imported rice.
“And don’t forget, Nigerian rice is tastier and healthier than imported rice, because our local rice is fresh from the farm. Let me add that I am also speaking as a proud consumer of our Nigerian rice. Our goal of making Nigeria a net exporter of rice will be achieved faster by encouraging large commercial farms that will complement our small-scale farmers.
“Large mechanized rice farms like OLAM’s 6,000-hectare farm will not only boost food production, but also provide significant opportunities for jobs in rural areas. Our youths will be supported to go into mechanized farming, and to pursue agriculture as a business”, the president assured.
Edited by Emmanuel Thomas