Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, said on Monday that rice production in the country over the last three years has generated about N400billion to the Nigerian economy.
Adesina who stated this in Abuja at the Second Nigeria Rice Investment Forum, said Nigeria has currently attained 80 per cent self-sufficiency in paddy rice production as well as added seven million metric tonnes of paddy rice to the domestic food supply in 2013.
He maintained that with the establishment of 18 rice integrated mills across the country, that Nigeria would not only achieve self-sufficiency in rice production but also would become a net exporter of food.
He explained that the challenge confronting the nation in its bid to attain self-sufficiency in rice production was the milling of the paddy rice which has been produced in the country in large quantities
While explaining various initiatives introduced Agricultural Transformation Agenda and the successes recorded he said, “What has happened as a result of this is that our rice farmers have allowed us to add N400billion worth of value of rice into the economy.”
“The challenge we have today is not in the production of paddy rice but how to close the milling gaps.
“When we started, there was only one integrated rice mill in the country, but today there are 18 of them within the period of two and half years.”
He posited that Nigeria has no reason whatever to continue to import rice worth N365 billion yearly, in view of the fact that the nation is endowed with arable land and deep water resources.
The minister said already that the Federal Government has reached six million rice farmers across the country through the provision of fertilizers and high quality seeds.
Apart from the provision of jobs for the teeming youths across the country, Adesina said the introduction of both wet and dry seasons farming under the present administration, has helped tremendously to revive the rural economy.
He added that 24 States in Nigeria are now growing rice during the dry season, adding that all 36 States and Abuja are equally engaged in rice production during the wet season.
On the improvement of the quality of the locally produced rice, he argued that Nigerian rice now competes favourably with the imported rice from Asian countries.