Nigeria to stop rice importation by December – Minister

Audu-Ogbeh

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, says Nigeria will stop rice importation by end of the year.

He stated that the country has enough yam production that can sustain home consumption and meet foreign exchange earnings to guarantee diversification of the economy.

The minister said the Federal Government will sign a memorandum of understanding with Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti and Ekiti State Government in the two critical sectors.

For a start up, he promised ABUAD 20 tonnes of rice seedlings in the next planting season to boost rice production.

Ogbeh spoke in Ado Ekiti at the weekend during a visit to ABUAD’s farm.

According to him, the bid to diversify the conomic recession has made the Federal Government to revolutionise the agriculture sector.

He said, “Of recent, prices of diesel increased from N130 per litre to about N280 which makes the cost of a tractor to move up to N14 million from N7 million. The interest rate on every loan given to farmers also went up, so the aggregate of all these factors caused increase in the prices of food items.

“We are concerned with the plights of Nigerians. We knew that many are hungry but we are working round it because it doesn’t speak well of us that we are in government and people are hungry.

“But the major challenge is that Nigerians produced children more than other Africa nations put together and youths are not interested in farming and the question now is that, who will feed all these children?

“Nigeria has about 150m population and if these people can’t be fed with food, then they will be fed with anarchy and chaos,” Ogbeh warned.

ABUAD’s founder, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), praised Buhari’s administration for bringing revolution to the country’s agriculture sector, which he noted, had been neglected by successive governments.

“To support the FG initiative, this university for the past three years have been holding the annual Afe Babalola Agriculture EXPO (ABAFEX), where we give N1 million to the best farmer in Ekiti and N250,000 to the best in 16 local governments.

“This year, we intend to hold rice summit with intention to expose Ekiti potentials in the production of the commodity,” Babalola said. 

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