BY JOSEPH CHIBUEZE, Abuja
… Becomes Largest Rice Producer In Africa
The federal government has announced that the nation’s strategic food reserves has risen to 109,657 metric tonnes. The minister of agriculture and rural development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono, who disclosed this yesterday during a media conference to announce the plans for the 2020 World Food Day, scheduled for October 16 2020, also said that the figure is expected to further increase to 219,900 MT by the end of 2020.
Nanono also informed that Nigeria has overtaken Egypt as the largest rice producer in Africa. The country now produces eight million tonnes out of Africa’s average of 14.6 million tonnes of rice annually.
World Food Day is celebrated annually around the world on 16th October in more than 150 countries to raise global awareness on the issues behind poverty and hunger. The theme of this year is “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. Our actions are our future”.
The minister said that significant progress has been made to improve agricultural productivity since the inception of the present administration. According to him, “To boost food security, Nigeria has curbed imports and has established a robust rice production programme to encourage more rice production at home. Efforts in this direction are starting to show results as Nigeria is now Africa’s largest producer of Rice and the third in the world. The country is also the largest producer of cassava in the world.”
He said that this is as a result of a range of policies and initiatives instituted by the government to strengthen the rice and cassava value chains, adding that the economic potential of both livestock and fisheries are also being harnessed and respective value chains selected and targeted for development.
The minister said that the disruptions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and flood disasters in the country came at a significant cost to Nigeria’s agricultural production. “At present, there are growing concerns on the implications of the crisis on farmers and food security in Nigeria,” he lamented.
“This year, hundreds of thousands of hectares of rice, maize, sorghum including livestock and fisheries have been affected by flood devastation in the country. To mitigate the effect, a special committee has been set up by the Ministry to act on the emerging flood issues and come up with strategies to minimise its effects on agricultural production in order to avert food crisis and ensure sustainable food security for the nation.
“Already, a comprehensive flood mitigation and resilience plan for the affected farming communities nationwide has been finalised by the ministry and is only waiting for consideration and approval by the President.”
Enumerating other actions taken by the ministry to achieve its mandate, the minister said, since the beginning of the 2020 farming season, the ministry has distributed inputs in states across the
country to boost food production.
He said Nigeria last year recorded a boost in the production of her major staple crops. “According to the data from the ministry, maize and rice production rose from 12.8 and 12.3 to 13.94 and 14.28 million metric tonnes (MMT) respectively last year,” he said.
“The same is obtainable for cassava with production increase from 58.47 MMT in 2018 to 73.91 – and even projected to rise to 93.6 by 2023. Growth has also been recorded for groundnut, tomatoes, and
sorghum production. Cattle beef, milk and fish production also rose by 166 per cent, 146 per cent and 11 per cent respectively between 2018 and 2019. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Bureau of Statistics report indicates that Nigeria’s National Agricultural Import Bill also reduced from N1.2 billion to N1.1 billion.
“It is clear from the forgoing, that if the agricultural sector must be made more productive and sustainable, we must all be prepared to invest massively in it in order to quickly rise to the call against looming food crisis as already predicted by the World Bank, FAO and AfDB.”