Nigeria stops rice importation by December

Yinka Salaam, Osogbo

Nigeria will by December this year stop the importation of rice going by the country’s massive rice production programmes.

This Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Audu Ogbeh said this on Wednesday during a courtesy call on the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola.

Mr Ogbeh condemned a situation where Nigeria spends billions of dollars on food importation and expressed readiness of the Nigerian government to partner with the State Government in its extensive food production programme.

“In Osun there is a lot of potentialities through various crops. Just two crops alone are enough for Osun to make over three billion Dollars in a month.

“We have to find extraordinary means to make agriculture work in this country because by 2050 Nigeria’s population would have risen to about 450million and we have to quickly begin to look for means of being capable to feed ourselves by then,” the minister stated.

Economic recession
Mr Ogbeh said the collaborative effort would ultimately take Nigeria out of the economic recession, calling for maximum partnership among various authorities to revamp agriculture.

The minister attributed the recession to the nation’s failure to harness its huge potential in agriculture. He stressed that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has been restructured to meet the nation’s needs on food production with a view to bringing an end to all forms of food importation.

“By December this year, we will stop importation of rice into the country. It is a pity that as a nation we spend about five million dollars on the importation of rice on a daily basis.

“We have no choice in this country now but to get ready to go back to farm and begin to cultivate it to be able to free ourselves and the land from poverty because oil and gas can no longer do it,’’ he said.

Mr Ogbeh maintained that the era of sole reliance on crude oil as a major source of income has ended and that the time has come for Nigerians, irrespective of socio-economic status to develop interests in any alternative to crude oil.

“It has been foreseen that in 30 years there wouldn’t be fuel vehicles just as the crude oil would neither be sellable nor valuable.

‎”The only feasible alternative we have to cushion the adverse effect of the present economy is for all to go back to farm,’’ he stated.

According to him, If Lagos consumes 6000 cattle a day, then, there is no doubt that the whole nation consumes over 30000 cows on daily basis, hence, the need for Nigerians to buckle up in cattle production.

Expressing readiness to partner with Osun in enhancing agriculture potentials, Mr Ogbeh said the ministry has mapped out strategy to ‘collaborate with the state on piggerry production, cocoa production, cassava, cashew, cattle and lot more’.

Governor’s response
Governor Rauf Aregbesola said his government has touched on all aspects of Agriculture.

He asserted that the present economy has left Nigerians with options of either to develop or destroy, thus calling for massive participation in agriculture.

“An alternative to oil is a quest of all nations. A time is coming when oil will no longer serve the mono-economic that it serves now, thus, Nigeria must come to that grim reality that in 25 years to come, there will not be revenue from oil.

“So, considering development, the only viable alternative is for us to return to farm so as to ensure better economic alternative…It is quite unfortunate that in spite of the recession, our nation could not feed itself and we still depend largely on importation. It is unfortunate that we borrow money to feed ourselves not to implement infrastructure projects again,” the Governor explained.

Governor Aregbesola concluded that the present recession provided an opportune time for Nigerians to see land as the most valuable entity given by God to salvage them and develop their nation.

Revolutionalising  agriculture
On the myriads of interventions on agriculture, the Director General, Office of Economic Development and Partnership, Dr Charles Akinola said Osun State has successfully revolutionalised agriculture to the extent of merging the value chain for greater productivity.

“Osun is one of the few states in Nigeria that have done so much to revive the agriculture potential as a lot of farm settlements had been revived and put to better use for farmers,”Dr Akinola said.

He added that Osun has institutionalised several agriculture programmes to ensure food security and agriculture self sustainability.

Mercy Chukwudiebere