The Federal Government, on Wednesday, said the country would, in 2018, achieve rice production of seven million metric tonnes.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who stated this in Abuja at a press conference on the Federal Government’s achievements in rice production, said Nigeria was “inching closer to self-sufficiency” in the crop.
He stated, “By 2018, the administration targets a rice production of seven million metric tonnes. As of 2015, rice demand in Nigeria stood at 6.3 million metric tonnes.”
The minister said the Federal Government was aware of the high price of locally produced rice, despite increase in its production.
He, however, assured Nigerians that the rise in production would eventually lead to fall in the price of rice.
He stated, “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.”
He said the Thailand Rice Exporters’ Association 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 21,000 metric tonnes.
The minister said as a result of the Muhammadu Buhari administration’s success in local production, “some investors from Thailand have shown interest in establishing rice milling plants in Nigeria.”
Muhammed assured Nigerians that the coming of the foreign investors would not drive local farmers out of business.
According to him, the foreign investors would mostly be involved in the value chain aspect of rice production.
He recalled that unlike a few years ago, Nigeria had become one of the largest producers of rice in the world.
The minister added, “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.”
He explained that the increase in rice production had led to the establishment of rice mills.