Good afternoon gentlemen. Permit me to start this press conference by apologising to you for the cancellation of previously-planned press conferences with you. This is due to scheduling difficulties. You have always honoured our invitations, even at short notices. We thank your most sincerely.
- Gentlemen, in recent times, and at different fora, we have been highlighting the growing achievements of this Administration, especially in the three key areas that form the plank of its policy: Fight against security, tackling Corruption and revamping the economy. This we have done with facts and figures, to the chagrin of those who have mischievously sought to downplay the Administration’s achievements, for reasons best known to them.
- Today, in continuation of these efforts, we are happy to tell Nigerians of a giant stride made by the Administration in the agriculture sector, specifically rice production: Nigeria is inching closer to achieving self-sufficiency in rice, due to the success recorded by the Administration in the local production of rice.
- In fact, the Thailand Rice Exporters Association has recently revealed that within a spate of just two years – From September 2015 to September 2017 – Nigeria’s rice importation dropped from 644,131 Metric Tonnes to just about 21,000MT.
- There is more good news to report: As a result of this Administration’s success in local production, some investors from Thailand have shown interest in establishing rice milling plants in Nigeria, and this is sure to further boost rice production in Nigeria. A few years ago, this would not have been possible since Nigeria was not considered a top rice producing country. Today, Nigeria is one of the largest producers of rice.
- Gentlemen, the improvement in rice production across the country did not happen by accident. It is largely due to the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari, which supports farmers through inputs distribution and loans to boost rice production.
7 The increased rice production has, in turn, led to the establishment of rice mills, including the 120,000MT WACOT Mill in Kebbi and the 1,000, 000MT Dangote Rice Mill.
- So what does the increased production of rice portend for the country? It means, as I said earlier, that Nigeria is very close to achieving self-sufficiency in rice. By 2018, the Administration targets rice production of 7 million MT. As at 2015, Rice demand in Nigeria stood at 6.3 million MT. There is also the fact that locally-produced rice is safer, tastier and healthier, in the words of the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe.
- I know the question agitating your minds now will be: Why is the price of locally-produced rice still on the high side despite the increased production. Suffice it to say, however, that the increased production is bound to eventually bring down the price of rice and also bring succour to Nigerians.
- I thank you for your kind attention