The federal government and stakeholders in the rice value chain have renewed commitment to self sufficiency in the production and export of rice, saying it will force a reduction in the price of the commodity across the country.
Speaking during a 2-day AgroNigeria High-Level Rice Conference in Abuja, the minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, stated that the Agricultural Promotion Policy had helped to improve the volume of production, capacity of farmers as well as improved the quality and prevent Nigeria from being a dumping site for imported rice.
The minister who was represented by director, Agribusiness, Alhaji Musibau Azeez, explained that there were 21 integrated rice mills in Nigeria currently producing 1. 22 million metric tonnes yearly across rice-processing states like Kano, Enugu, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Niger, Kogi amongst others.
He added that the federal government was prioritising the fight against the smuggling of agricultural commodities including rice.
Delivering a keynote address, the Kebbi State governor, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, says the price of local rice will soon drop to N 10,000 a bag.
He noted that Nigeria had the capacity to tap into the 600-700 MT global rice market as rice is grown in all the states of the federation and the FCT. Adding that stakeholders must cooperate to sustain the growth already recorded in the sector.
He urged the nation to emulate Japan which imposes a 777% tarrif on imported rice as against the current 50% tarrif on imported rice in the country.
Earlier, the regional director Africa, Syngenta, Switzerland, Dr Luzius Cavieziel, stated that his organisation had been investing in different crops across the world. Stating that it was engaged in 26 commercial operations and six research and development sites.
In a remark, the group head, commercial services, Notore Chemical Industry, Mr Tijjani St. James, said to support the rice self sufficiency agenda, NOTORE has developed a special rice-specific variant of Urea called the Urea Super Granules (USG) for rice farming.
“This variant can potentially increase yield by 50% because, by its nature, it enables the rice plant absorb 40% more nitrogen than the ordinary urea fertilizer.
“Notore is expanding its rice seeds production capacity. As testified by farmers across Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Jigawa and Gombe states, the NOTORE OPV rice seeds have demonstrated to not only be of high yield quality but that the seeds vigor can ensure high yields in three to four planting cycles.
“It is expanding its distribution team to bring its fertilizer & seeds inputs closer to rural farming communities,” he said.
He noted that the company target increasing its current 5,350 agricultural extension staff strength to 6000 by the 2019 will enhance awareness of the USG fertilizer and increase adoption among rice farmers across the country
On his part, the managing director, Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Mr Aliyu Abdulhameed, commended AgroNigeria for expanding its scope of coverage to the whole of Africa and for initiating the Rice Conference.
He stated that NIRSAL had developed production models to boost productivity of farmers.
He added that the agency had facilitated access to N3. 4billion by 57,000 farmers, 90 per cent of them from Kebbi.
The Ogun State commissioner for Agriculture, Mrs Adepeju Adebajo, noted that farmers could only be economically viable if they formed clusters.
She stated that the state government was prioritising the adoption of agritech such as aquaponics to reduce the cultivation of large expanse of land.
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