Nigeria on food sufficiency path, says Buhari - THE NATION
•‘N1tr sunk into rice production’
Nigeria is on the path to attaining food sufficiency, President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday. He attributed the feat to the adoption of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
He dropped the hint in Abuja at the unveiling of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Mega Rice Pyramids.
This as Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele said that the Federal Government has so far sunk N1 trillion into local rice production.
Buhari said: “The ABP has so far supported over 4.8 million small holder farmers across Nigeria for the production of 23 agricultural commodities, including maize, rice, oil palm, cocoa, cotton, cassava, tomato and livestock”.
The President described the springing up of more domestic rice mills has further guaranteed the march to food sufficiency.
“There were only 15 standard rice mills in Nigeria. As at today, we have over 50 standard and integrated rice mills creating jobs and reducing unemployment.
He added that additional significant output will be achieved “when two new mills are started in Lagos and Katsina. I am also aware that because of the large margins in this business, more people are showing interest in investing in our agribusiness”.
Appraising his administration’s intervention, the President said: “The ABP has become one of the reference points in the administration’s agricultural revolution effort.
“Nigeria is making steady and assured progress towards self-sufficiency in food production, and it is my desired hope and expectation that other agricultural commodity associations that are yet to participate under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme will emulate the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria in supporting our administration’s drive for food self-sufficiency.
“The ABP speaks loudly in its giant strides as it has increased access to finance by our rural farmers, who before now were virtually excluded from the financial system.”
After unveiling the pyramid, Buhari said: “The bags of paddy will be moving straight from here to rice milling plants across Nigeria, which lead to the release of processed rice to the markets by the rice millers. The measure will aid our efforts at reducing the price of rice in Nigeria.”
The CBN governor , who corroborating the President’s assurance that Nigeria was on the path to food sufficiency, noted: “Beyond increasing our national output from about 5.4 million metric tons in 2015 to over 9 million metric tons in 2021, we have also significantly improved the productivity per hectare of the smallholder farmer from about 2.4 metric tons per ha in 2015 to between about 5 metric tons per ha in 2021.
“These expansions have not only made Nigeria the largest rice producer in Africa, but has also unlocked enormous private sector investment in the rice value chain as the number of Integrated Rice Mills grew astronomically from six in 2015 to over 50 in 2021 with many more in various stages of completion. Today, Nigeria’s milled rice matches the foreign rice in quality.”
On government’s investment in rice cultivation, Emefiele said: “As at the end of December 2021, we have financed 4,489,786 farmers that cultivated 5,300,411 hectares across 21 commodities through 23 Participating Financial Institutions in the 36 States of the Federation and FCT.
“To bridge the demand-supply gap, which costs the country over $2 billion annual importation of wheat, Emefiele said the CBN has supervised the completion of the first major wet season wheat farming in Plateau State and planted over 100,000 hectares of wheat across 15 States in the 2021 dry season. This strategic intervention will herald progressive reduction in our wheat import bills over the coming years.”
He informed that the bank has deepened its stakeholders’ engagement to increase the arable land under cultivation and improve the productivity per hectare using improved seeds and agronomic practices.
According to him, the CBN is “currently exploring a new rice seed variety with the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) that has potential to deliver over 8 tons per/ha”.
The pilot programme, he revealed, will commence in the 2022 dry season, and “it has the potential of being the game changer for the rice sector in Nigeria. We will work with the various seed certification authorities and explore the possibility of patenting it for RIFAN as part of their legacies under the programme”.
The CBN will be unveiling maize pyramids in conjunction with the Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN) as well as the inaugural rice pyramids in the Southsouth and Southeast zone lined up for the year.
Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi recalled that the President did not pretend in 2015 that agriculture would be a major thrust of his administration.
It was not surprising to see the President live up to that promise, Fayemi, who is Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) Chairman, said.
He noted that the doubt about food insecurity must now be removed with the rice revolution in Nigeria.
The NGF chair said: “This is about food security. National security now means food security and food security means national security.
“The job is not done. We shall not relent until the available of rice as a stable food is achieved.”
Fayemi’s Kebbi State counterpart Atiku Bagudu stated that “investment in rice cultivation in Nigeria is around N1trillion. Though it might sound small when converted to dollars we are not doing badly.
Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) President Aminu Goronyo noted that the pyramids represent 0.05 per cent of the rice cultivated in the 2020 wet season while 99 percent is already at the production areas
He said the CBN has a mandate to sell the rice paddy to millers at a subsidized rate
Goronyo urged Buhari to appreciate and acknowledge critical stakeholders who made the event possible, such as farmers who have not been deterred by the insecurity and climate challenges.
He said: “The small holder farmers despite the security challenges remain committed. Some of the farmers are gone and some in the hospital but they have not given up. They deserve appreciations.
“CBN financed a lot of farmers. In rice which is my sector, the CBN finance has created about three million jobs, especially for farmers and suppliers. About five million jobs are provided every year through this financing the apex bank’s financing of rice farmers has led to gainful employment of thousands of Nigerians across the value chain in six years.”