The federal government says it is targeting the production of eight million tonnes of paddy by rice farmers across the country in 2018 wet season.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said this on Monday in Abuja, while speaking to newsmen on the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in the past three years.
The minister said that the country was currently producing between 5.8 million and six million tonnes of paddy, adding that it was targeting the production of nine million tonnes by 2019. He said that the rice revolution was the most outstanding achievement recorded in the Buhari-administration’s economic diversification efforts in three years.
Ogbeh said that the feats in the rice revolution were attained through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The minister, who noted that in the past, Nigeria spent over five million U.S. dollars a day on rice importation, said that rice importation had reduced by 95 per cent from December 2015 till date.
“The number of farmers growing paddy rice has risen from five million to 12.2 million; more farmers are coming in as we clear more land for them and arrange irrigation facilities.
“By the end of this planting season which we are entering, we should be approaching eight million tonnes of paddy, which will give us roughly 6.5 million tonnes of processed rice.
“We hope that by this time next year, we should be targeting nine million tonnes of paddy because the good thing is that rice grows everywhere in the country.
“Irrigation has to come on board for us to achieve this because as long as we depend on rain-fed agriculture, we would have difficulties in achieving the target.
“When the CBN came up in partnership with us on the ABP loan at nine percent interest rate, which to the farmer was a biggest relief they have seen in years; even though it is still too high but it made all the difference.’’
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