MINISTER of Agriculture and Rural Development, Adewunmi Adesina, has said Nigeria spends N1 billion daily on the importation of rice. This translates to N365 billion a year.
He said to halt the ugly trend, the Federal Government has evolved strategies to make agriculture attractive to more Nigerians.
At the launch yesterday of the Taraba State cassava-agro input initiative and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) Growth Enhancement Support Scheme in Bantaji Village of Wukari Local Council, the minister said the government was set to give “large scale plants to some states in the country.”
The plants, according to him, have the capacity to produce 72 metric tonnes of high quality cassava yearly, stressing that the need to key into President Goodluck Jonathan’s policy of “grow local, buy local and eat local food” could no longer be over-emphasised
Encouraged by the high level of farmers and the state government’s commitment to developing the sector, Adesina pledged to harness more resources to assist Taraba boost food production.
“Taraba alone” he declared, “can feed the whole of Nigeria and there is no reason why the state cannot be the great basket of agriculture in the country.”
The minister queried why Nigeria, rated as the “largest producer of cassava in the world, does not add value to it,” hinting that the government had allocated integrated rice mill to the state.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Trade and Investments, Dr. Sam Ortom, has stressed the need for the development of agro-commodities to harness Nigeria’s potential in agriculture.
At the inauguration of three commodities’ associations (National Shea Products Association, Nigerian Kolanut/Bitter Kola Marketers and Exporters Association of Nigeria and Castor Growers, Processors and Marketers’ Association of Nigeria) in Abuja, Ortom said policies that facilitate the development of agro-commodities would form the bedrock for the nation’s industrial growth.
Ortom said it was imperative that Nigeria remains relevant in global commodity trade with emphasis on diversification considering its available vast land and growing population.
At the event, former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Audu Ogbeh, called on stakeholders to enhance growth in the non-oil sector.
He listed Brazil, India and China among the top producers of castor, which Nigeria spends N1.5 billion yearly to import. Ogbeh said about 1.5 million tonnes of castor is produced yearly globally.