The Federal government has announced that Nigeria will attain self- sufficiency in rice production by 2020, provided the implementation of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme launched on Nov 17, 2015 is sustained.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this at a media briefing in Lagos, on Monday, “the country has never been closer to self-sufficiency in rice, a national staple, than now,’’ he stated.
Mohammed recalled that the President inaugurated the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme to supply farm inputs in cash and kind to smallholder farmers, to promote local production of commodities, including rice.
“This has been made possible by the purposeful leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, who has consistently said that this nation must produce what it consumes,’’ he said.
He noted that the programme seeks to stabilise inputs supply to agro processors and address the country’s negative balance of payments on food.
According to the Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), the minister said there were more than 11 million rice farmers in Nigeria, up from five million in 2015, adding that RIPAN’s total investment in the Nigerian economy was in excess of N300 billion while upcoming investments would amount to N250 billion.
Lai Mohammed explained that the new investments would save 300 million dollar FOREX from import substitution through local processing.
“He noted that the nation’s current rice consumption is approximately six million MT of milled rice.
“In 2015, Nigeria produced 2.5m MT of milled rice. By 2017, it rose to 4m MT, leaving a gap of 2m MT.
“Our target is to fill that gap by 2020,
“It is important to note that the new investments were made when Nigeria was in recession, indicating investors’ confidence in Mr. President and the Nigerian economy,’’ he said.
Furthermore, he said that with increased rice production, “RIPAN members presently employ 5,000 skilled Nigerians through direct employment.
He noted that farmers were appointed through indirect employment, input suppliers, unskilled workers and laborers were employed