Nigeria is losing about N360billion annually from the importation of rice, according to the Federal Government.
Making this revelation, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr. Labaran Maku, during the inspection of the N1 billion ultra-modern rice processing mill in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State, also stated that the Federal Government has concluded plans to ban the importation of rice into Nigeria by 2015.
The impending ban, according to the Minister, is to save the country from losing such huge amount on rice importation, and also create jobs for the nation’s unemployed youths.
Maku explained that the Federal Government has set aside about N450 billion for commercial agriculture, adding that the government is working hard to increase the capacity of the Bank of Industry (BOI), towards achieving the government’s goals in the agricultural sector.
“The target is to ban rice importation in 2015 and to create 2.4million jobs by 2015. It is a shame we are still importing rice in 2013 with all the arable lands and manpower available to Nigeria.
“Unless we process rice up to international standard that we can export our reserves to the rest of the world, we will continue to import, even from countries we are afar better off.
“What government is doing is to provide facilities. Our hope is that Nigerian farmers can go into commercial farming,” he said.
The Minister challenged Kebbi farmers to take the lead of meeting the rice need of Nigeria, positing that the nation must begin now to export rice and keep reserves for future use.
Maku also charged the promoters of the rice mill in Birnin Kebbi to ensure speedy completion of the rice processing mill to enable farmers in the state benefit from it.
He said: “This rice mill in Kebbi is in line with the ongoing Federal Government’s revolution in agricultural sector, as it would save the country the N360 billion lost to rice importation annually.
“The project apart from creating wealth for farmers would save foreign exchange and create thousands of jobs for youths who are interested to go into agriculture. Federal government has changed agriculture policy with plan to make Nigeria major exporter of rice and rice Kebbi rice destination.”
Also speaking, Kebbi State Governor Saidu Dakingari said that the state government is fully supporting the rice mil project, noting that it will transform the lives of people of the state and compliment the Federal Government’s Transformation Agenda.