Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Federal Government said it has cut down rice importation by 90 per cent insisting that the development has enriched Nigerian farmers.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who divulged the development recently at the 2018 Seed Fair and Farmers’ Field Day, in Abuja, maintained that Nigerian rice tastes better and also healthier compared to any around the world.
Ogbeh also communicated government’s stands stamp out food importation especially those that could easily be produced locally, challenging more youths to veer into agriculture not just to eke out a living but for exports.
His words, “We have cut down rice importation by 90% in two and a half years otherwise we are spending $5 million a day importing rice.
“Nigeria rice is better than rice we importing from anywhere it is fresh and healthier.
“If we continue our habits of importing, shifting all the dollars away from home we are causing ourselves very serious problems.
“We are almost 200 million but we will rise to 400 million 30 years from now. We need jobs and agriculture is the highest creator of jobs,” he noted.
The minister also consoled with farmers who have lost their crops due to the flooding, especially with Cosmos Maduka owner of Coscharis Motors who lost about 8, 000 hectares of rice farms due to the disaster, appealing to them replant otherwise the country may experience deficit in food production.
He continued, “We have to reach out to the farmers who have lost their crops. Because in place like Jigawa, Kebbi, Anambra and Kogi states, many farmers lost many things they planted which leads me to the success of the seed council.
“New varieties of rice are been produced here like Aro 66 and 67 which are flood tolerant. We hope to get them in large quantity for farmers to plant in the near future.
“We are hoping that as soon as the rain recedes we encourage farmers to replant so that the residual moisture in the soil and irrigation can give us another crop maybe by the end of December or January if not we may be in serious trouble for millet, rice, maize and sorghum.
“What we need is industrial machineries to convert these products to industrial products. Every process of the yam we grow rotten every year because we produce more than we consume,” he disclosed.
Meanwhile, the President, Seeds Entrepreneur Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN), Richard Olafare has tasked the Federal Government to indulge in community engagement to ensure that certified seeds are distributed to farmers to avoid poor yield of farm produce.