NIGERIA – President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday expressed optimism that Nigeria would soon join Thailand, India and other Asian countries in rice exportation.
He attributes the development to his administration’s strong political will, the deployment of science and technology and the massive private sector investment in rice production and processing in the past four years.
He stated that the country’s food imports has been on the downward trend from N1.1 trillion in 2009 to N634 billion in December2013.
“I’m optimistic therefore that our food import bill will continue its downward trend,” he asserted.
According to him, the Nigerian rice industry in the next three months would be receiving an additional private sector investment of $1.7 billion mainly from the Dangote group, while Olam which is cultivating over 6,000 hectares of rice in Nasarawa State, using modernise airplane broadcasting has sunk in about $700 million into the sector.
President Jonathan who was represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Akinwumi Adeshina, made the disclosure at the second Nigeria rice investment summit organised by the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) Business Group-Nigeria, in Abuja.
In what he described as rice revolution about to be unleashed in the country, he said the rice revolution which has attained 80 per cent self-sufficiency marked a total turning point for food security and production in the country, adding, “I have no doubt in mind that in the next three years Nigeria will be exporting rice to other countries just like Thailand and India.
While Dangote group will be cultivating about 1500 hectares of land in five states and with an investment of over $1 billion, Nigeria is near food sufficiency in food production, he added.
He said: “Nigeria absolutely has no reason of importing rice, we must do everything necessary for us not only to be self-sufficient, but that Nigeria must become a net importer of food just like what India is doing.
“Between 2011 and 2014, we have added seven million metric tons of padi rice to our rice production. Nigeria today has reached about 80 percent of self-sufficiency in padi rice production.
“When we started the rice transformation agenda in 2011, Nigeria was spending a whopping N56 billion in importing rice. This was just not accepted economically politically or physically because we were spending our scarce foreign exchange buying what we were richly endowed with.
In a remark, the Special Adviser to the President on NEPAD, Mrs. Fidelia Njeze, said as stakeholders in the rice investment programme the occasion offers an opportunity to address what needs to be done towards breaking the barriers of large-scale production of rice in the country.