According to reports, the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has assured Nigerians that with measures adopted by the Federal Government, the country would soon transmute into a rice exporting country within one year.
Ogbeh gave the assurance in Hadejia and Auyo local government areas in Jigawa State when he visited to ascertain the level of rice production in the zone, assuring that rice production in the country was part of efforts designed to discourage the importation of the commodity.
He stated that as part of its programme to encourage state governors to key into the massive production of rice, Jigawa State government would contribute over 1.2 million metric tons of the rice to the total output.
Chief Ogbeh with the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on Rice and Wheat Production who is also the Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, and the host Governor, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, were in the team on the visit.
The duo declared that within the next one year, a grain of rice would no longer be imported.
“when we told Nigerians about two months ago that in another one year, there will be no need for a grain of rice to be imported from outside, some people did not believe us, but you can see now that in Auyo here in Jigawa State, you can see massive rice fields that can produce between 1.2 million metric tons and 1.5 million metric tons of rice.
“This is just one out of the 27 Local Government Areas in Jigawa State. As such, every Nigerian will this season see fresh rice to eat, not rice stored for seven years in silos abroad or in foreign countries.
“There is no better way of developing our rural people. There is no need for us to continue to import expired rice from other countries because when we initiated the programme, it was greeted with criticism. As you can see today, our farmers will be hero and that is the change mantra the Buhari-led administration is determined to achieve.
“The rice farmers who were neglected by successive governments are now well positioned to become major contributors to national economy. President Buhari told us to produce food, we are producing the food.
“The governors are taking the lead of encouraging rice farmers in their respective states to embrace the cultivation and production of rice in commercial quantities. Nigeria will soon become a major rice exporter.
“We are working hard in this direction and we are sure that we will achieve this dream in no distant time. Very soon, many states across the country will commence the distribution of rice mills to farmers. My ministry is also working on this; because we want to ensure that milling of rice will not be a problem, harvesting the rice will not also be a problem; as such, Nigeria will become a rice power where from there, we will move to maize, soya beans and others.”
Also speaking, the CBN Governor said when the apex bank started the Anchor-Borrower programme, Jigawa State could not be reached, but today the meager resources of the state government, the state has been able to make a significant impact in rice production.
“I want to assure you that whatever you need to continue to push this dream of feeding our people, the CBN stands ready to support you so that we can continue to assist you in taking it to a higher level.”
The Jigawa State governor in his remarks said that the state decided to partner with rice farmers to ensure that his state became one of the leading states across the country in the production of rice in commercial quantities.
Badaru added that with the plans on ground, Jigawa Sate hoped to produce 1.5 to five million metric tons of rice within the next five years, through farmers’ clusters training programme.