By Doris Esa, Abuja.
The Federal Government on Thursday inaugurated the National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS ll) to enable Nigeria to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production.
The Federal Government also inaugurated the Competitive African Rice Platform (CARP) – Nigeria, dedicated to the productivity and sustainability of the rice industry.
The CARP Nigeria is aimed at improving the competitiveness of locally grown rice through economic, social, environmental and policy avenues.
The Minister of State for Agriculture, Mustapha Shehuri, said that the NRDS II document was a 10-year plan (2020-2030), seeking to provide direction for the development of the rice sub-sector.
Shehuri said that NRDS II also sought to achieve the government’s goals of achieving self-sufficiency in rice production, food and nutrition security, employment creation and production of surplus for export.
He said that the Federal Government was extremely committed to the promotion of agriculture sector, in order to realise its potential of achieving food and nutrition security for the country’s population.
“The Rice Value Chain has been identified as being strategic to achieving these lofty objectives. This underscores the importance of today’s event,” he said.
The minister recalled that NRDS I, which was used to boost rice production, under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda and Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP), served as a catalyst for the commencement of the “rice revolution” in the country.
“Its implementation began with the adoption of a value-chain system as a holistic approach to transforming the rice sector in Nigeria.
“This has helped the government to provide enablers and support for rice production, processing and marketing end-to-end.
“It encouraged a private sector-driven agriculture that started in 2011 as an adopted strategy of the Federal Government to reduce the huge import bill, by accelerating paddy production, as well as improving processing quality and promoting consumption of home-grown rice,” he said.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, said that CARP was set up to ensure the competitiveness of home-grown rice and sustainability of the Nigeria’s rice sector.
Umakhihe was represented by Mr Daniel Udo, Director, Department of Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
In a goodwill message, Gov. Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State said that Nigeria had done well in rice production.
“We have done well, there is no doubt about it, in the rice sector. There’s an increase in production, the mobilisation of private investment, the coming together of financiers.
“Also, scientists and policy makers, under the able leadership of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, have produced monumental results,” he said.
Umakhihe said that the rice strategy document was in line with the Federal Government’s goals to achieve food sufficiency and boost trades.
In an address, the ECOWAS Rice Observatory (ERO) Officer, Dr Boladale Adebowale, said that rice had emerged strategically as a food security commodity.
She, however, underscored the need for regional collaboration to ensure the growth of the rice sub-sector.