By Dipo Olowookere
Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, has disclosed that the importation of rice into Nigeria has significantly dropped in the last two years.
Mr Mohammed attributed this to the various initiatives embarked upon by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
One of such, according to the Minister, is the introduction of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) aimed to boost local production of the staple food in the country.
While addressing newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja, Mr Mohammed said Federal Government was very close to achieving self-sufficiency in rice.
Quoting figures from the Thailand Rice Exporters Association, the Minister said rice importation from Thailand, which supplies the bulk of the parboiled rice being imported into Nigeria, dropped from 644,131 Metric Tonnes to about 21,000 MT between September 2015 and September 2017.
“We are happy to tell Nigerians of a giant stride made by the administration in the agriculture sector, specifically rice production: Nigeria is inching closer to achieving self-sufficiency in rice, due to the success recorded by the Administration in the local production of rice,” he said.
Mr Mohammed said that as a result of the administration’s success in local production, some investors from Thailand have even shown interest in establishing rice milling plants in Nigeria, a development he said would further boost rice production in Nigeria.
“A few years ago, this (Thai investors establishing rice mills in Nigeria) would not have been possible since Nigeria was not considered a top rice producing country. Today, Nigeria is one of the largest producers of rice,” he said.
The Minister said the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has helped to support farmers through inputs distribution and loans to boost rice production.
He said the increased rice production has, in turn, led to the establishment of rice mills, including the 120,000MT WACOT Mill in Kebbi and the 1,000,000MT Dangote Rice Mill.
Mr Mohammed said with the administration targeting rice production of 7 million MT by 2018, the country was closer than ever to achieving self-sufficiency in rice, going by the fact that as at 2015, rice demand in the country was 6.3 million MT.
He said the increased production was bound to force down the price of locally-produced rice and provide succour to Nigerians.
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