Nigeria won’t import rice next year


Having closely monitored the progress of local farmers, the International Fund for Agricultural Development Programme (IFAD) is convinced that Nigeria will be self-sufficient in rice production in 2018. JUSTINA ASISHANA reports from Minna

It might well be the best piece of news to come out of Nigeria. At the rate rice farming is going, the country will not have to import the grain next year. This piece of information was released by Dr. Odoemena Ben, Country Programme Officer in Nigeria, International Fund for Agricultural Development Programme (IFAD).

Ben was speaking in Niger State as part of IFAD Value Chain Development Progra-mme (VCDP) fifth supervision mission team to the state. He said that with the attention being paid by governments at all levels and international agencies on rice production, the sector has received a boost.

This means a lot to Nigerians and the Muhammadu Buhari administration. The administration took off on a plan to stimulate local food production and stem the outflow of import cash. This spurred increased cultivation of rice, for instance, in some states, one of which is Niger. As late as last December, it was clear that the administration and the rice growers meant business. The farmers grew the grain, processed and neatly bagged it.

Ben corroborated that in Niger, adding that farming in general has received a lot of boost from both state and federal governments as farmers are being given farm inputs, fertilisers, seedlings, equipment and other implements that would improve the quality and quantity of farming in the country.

Ben said that with the investment made in rice this year, the farmers across the country can produce more than three million metric tonnes of rice which would be more than enough until the next rice planting season.

”Niger is heading for self-sufficiency of rice before the end of 2017. I am very sure that if the path of what we are doing continues, we will be self-sufficient in Rice production. By next year, Nigeria will be able to export rice.

He however called on states governments to fulfil their parts by paying their counterpart funds to enable the farmers enjoy more and give them increased yield in their farm produce.

However, the Niger government has assured the International Fund for Agricultural Development Programme (IFAD) of its commitment to pay its N87.1 million counterpart fund.

The state Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Kabiru Musa called for patience during the team’s visit to his office.

He said, “We appreciate you for being patient with us over non payment of counterpart fund. I assure you that we are going to discourse with the governor to make sure that the money is paid. The state government has approved the money, what is happening is that we are waiting for cash backing to pay our counterpart fund.”

Musa lauded the project in the state, saying that it has impacted positively on farmers in the state thereby creating jobs, increasing their income and increasing food production, “Today our farmers can carter for their households with ease without going to borrow,’’ he said.

He urged the project to extend their activities in the state to the 20 Local Government Areas that are yet to benefit as only five local government areas in the state; Kontagora, Wushishi, Bida, Shiroro and Katcha are currently participating in the programme.

The state IFAD Project Coordinator, Dr. Ahmed Mathew said that over N83 million has been expended for infrastructures for Rural Farmers in Niger state to provide them with basic amenities and alleviate their sufferings.

He said that the infrastructures were provided under the Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) under the programme adding that the projects will help in increasing the productivity of the farmers in the state.

He said that Solar Powered boreholes was set up for N9.5 million, rehabilitation and construction  of warehouses gulped N23 million while others cost N33 million..

Ahmed further said that IFAD has helped the farmers in increasing their income while he stressed on the need for the state government to pay up its counterpart fund to enable them give the farmers more infrastructures.

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