Lai Mohammed Image: buzznigeria.com

According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, the Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari has drastically cut rice importation and moved Nigeria very close to achieving self-sufficiency in the production of the staple food within two years.

Mohammed outlined these positives while addressing a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday to highlight the achievements of the Buhari Administration.

To make his point on reduced importation of rice, the Minister quoted figures from the Thailand Rice Exporters Association, supplier of the bulk of parboiled rice being imported into Nigeria, which showed a sharp drop from 644,131 Metric Tonnes to about 21,000 MT between September 2015 and September 2017.

He further 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.

Mohammed said the increase in rice production across the country did not happen by accident, but was largely due to the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari to support farmers through inputs distribution and loans to boost rice production, and the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, among others.

He added 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.

The Minister said: “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.

“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.”

Mohammed further disclosed that with the Administration targetting 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.

Author: Yemi Olarinre