Naija Foodie Update

FOODIE NAIJA UPDATE (NIGERIA AND SELF SUFFICIENCY IN RICE PRODUCTION)

In a bid to mitigate the effect
of the ban on rice importation into Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari in June this year announced that his
administration would make Nigeria self- sufficient in rice production within 18 months.

Speaking at the Ramadan breaking of fast with members of the business community,
Buhari said 13 states of the federation had been identified for the production of the crop, pointing out that the Minister of
Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, had already been briefed on how best to achieve the target.
He decried the way and manner the nation’s scarce resources were wasted on the importation of food items by the previous regimes, saying that the nation
had no option than to concentrate more on agriculture and solid mineral activities.

The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken
Lokpobiri at a town hall meeting in Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa State, said the reliance on imported food led to the
astronomical rise in price of rice and other commodities, stressing that if Nigerians failed to produce some of the items being imported before December, the price of rice would skyrocket to N40,000 a bag.

According to him, Nigeria spends about $22 billion a year on importation of food, saying that a projection shows that the
population of Nigeria would be 450 million by 2050 and wondered what would happen then if the people could not feed themselves now. We do not have
enough dollars to fund the import
because of low crude oil price and that is why you see the price of rice going up.

Prices of rice was between N9,000 to N12,000 some months ago, but it is now about N26,000 and if we don’t start producing by December, it could be N40,000. Rice matures in three months, so
this is a wake-up call for Bayelsa people to take the four farms we have serious. The Federal Government has four farms in the
state in our records.

There is no rice farm in Rivers State and many other state. They have land to cultivate rice but no support from government. All states in the country should be encouraged to produce rice and give it priority attention. The North- West states such as Kebbi, Jigawa, Kano as well as other states like Lagos, Ebonyi, Anambra have prioritized it.

The Dangote Group of Companies is set to invest over N53 billion in the production of rice and sugar in Nasarawa State, said its President, Alhaji Aliko Dangote. He disclosed this recently in Lafia during an
assessment tour of the investment
potentials in the state.
Represented by Mr Abdullahi Sule, the company’s group managing director in charge of sugar production, Dangote said the company had set the machinery in
motion to invest in Obi, Awe and Doma Local government areas of the state.

He stated that the company would establish a rice mill and give agriculture and sugarcane outgrowers about 10,000
hectares and seed cane to enhance production, adding that the company has similar projects in Adamawa and Taraba States which had generated over 25,000
jobs, while expecting some to happen in Nasarawa.

On its part, the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) last year September completed its rice mill project in Bida and handed over same to the
Federal Government. Its country Director, Mr Jung Sang-hoon told The Tide in Abuja that the project was initiated in 2007, but was halted for a while due to technical
challenges the company encountered.

“The company has several projects; we have rice processing centre in Bida and cassava processing centres in Kogi, Enugu
and Ogun States, Sang-hoon said, adding “in case of the rice processing project, the delays came from our side; we were
unable to find alternative replacement (contracting companies).
“In 2012, when I came, I made some reports. My new approach at the time was to find collective association of agriculture
machinery production companies; they followed my advice and were able to resume. Now the process became very swift and prompt; virtually all the job has been completed.

Olam International, a Singaporean
Company in 2012 commenced large-scale cultivation and processing of rice by the last quarter in Nasarawa State, the
nation’s major rice growing state. The company announced that it invested $49.2 million in rice farming and milling in the state. Speaking to newsmen, the President of the firm, Mr Jajreev Raina said the investment established a 6,000 hectres of
irrigated paddy farms and rice.

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