By Ginika Okoye
Abuja – Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, on Monday, said that Nigeria would attain self-sufficiency in rice production by the end of 2017.
Ogbeh gave this assurance at the First International Cocoa Summit, organised by the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment in collaboration with Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Abuja.
He noted that rice production had improved tremendously across the country as a result of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).
Ogbeh said the programme had supported farmers through inputs distribution and loans to boost rice production across the country.
According to him, rice is one major staple food that almost every Nigerian citizen consumes.
He said that the move was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda to diversify the economy through the agriculture sector.
The minister, however, advised rice farmers to reduce the price of a tonne of paddy from N150, 000 to N120, 000 to make it affordable for millers and discourage smuggling.
“By the end of this year, we can tell you that we are self-sufficient in rice.
He expressed regrets on the increasing number of malnourished children across the country.
On cocoa, Ogbeh said the Federal Government, through his ministry, would encourage land clearing, fertiliser application through extension workers to promote the production.
“We are planning a re-launch of cocoa to draw national attention to its strategic importance but the big thing is to help processors at home and increase consumption.
“Everything is not about export, nowadays, the export market is choked and therefore, forcing prices down while farmers are losing money.
“We will help with land clearing, fertiliser improvement, especially the inclusion of boron to revive old cocoa plantation and encourage new ones,’’ he said. (NAN)