The Nigerian government has put measures in place to attain rice sufficiency in the country by 2018.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, stated this in his address to a rice investment conference in Abuja.
The third Nigeria Rice Investment forum, which was organized by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), is aimed at helping the government fast track its effort at achieving rice sufficiency come 2018.
The Minister, who was represented by Mr. Obinna Okpara, said the government intends to open more lands for rice production as well as improve productivity through the use of improved high quality seeds and environmental friendly agro chemicals to conserve the soil.
He said there were plans to support farmers with post-harvest equipment like reapers, threshers, cleaners and dryers to reduce post-harvest losses.
“There are 11 River Basin in 26 states with high potentials /irrigation resources to enhance the rice value chain.
The un-utilized irrigation schemes with a total land area of 47,300 ha suitable for immediate rice production will need to be rehabilitated, expanded, and allowed to be operated under public private partnership (PPP) for efficiency and sustainability,” he added.
Mr. Ogbeh lauded the efforts of the Central Bank of Nigeria in supporting rice farming in the country.
“The CBN Anchor Borrowers rice programme has been a monumental success and many more states and investors are buying into the programme, with rapidly increasing productivity by farmers,” he said.
He, however, identified some of the challenges affecting national rice production as inefficient input system, farming model which results to limited access of farmers to quality seeds, fertilizers, irrigation and crop protection, poor knowledge of target market, poor farmer access to credit facilities and others.
The Chairman, NEPAD Business Group Nigeria Dr. Nike Akande sought the creation of a platform for deliberations on enhanced production with emphasis on ways, strategies and steps to achieve the 2018 target for self-sufficiency in rice production.
“Achieving self-sufficiency in rice production for internal consumption in the short term and for export in the long run, is not a choice but a must for Nigeria, considering the importance of rice as the most important staple in the country.
The events are our own little way of partnering with government efforts with respect to the development of agriculture for socio-economic growth,” she added.
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Business Group Nigeria, 3rd Nigeria Rice Investment forum had rice farmers, rice processing companies and fabricators showcasing their products.