The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Bukar Tijjani, has said that the Federal Government is committed to ensuring self-sufficiency in rice production by 2015. “It is only when that is ensured that there will be a total ban on the importation of rice. It has to be a gradual process,” he said in Sokoto. Tijjani made this known at the ministry’s meeting with stakeholders involved in special intervention on dry season paddy production.
According to him, “Nigerians have grown to like rice. President Goodluck Jonathan has taken a decision to ensure that the nation becomes self-sufficient in rice production. “As at now, the federal government has put a 30 percent tariff on imported rice. Nigeria seems to be a dumping ground for bad rice. This is to discourage massive importation. By 2015, we should have a total ban. Nigerian should be patriotic enough to use Nigerian grown rice.”
Tijjani further said that 230,000 hectares were to be utilised across the country under the accelerated paddy production in the current dry season farming season. He said under the scheme, the Federal Government would provide fertilisers to farmers at 50 per cent subsidy. “Seeds for the 230,000 hectares are also available. The roll out starts now. An action plan would be drawn today.
“The funds to pay for all services to be rendered under the scheme have also been made available by the Federal Government. Jonathan and all the cabinet members are committed to ensuring food sufficiency in Nigeria to preserve our sovereignty.”
Dr Jabbi Kilgori, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, commended the Federal Government for all its interventions to transform agriculture through its various programmes. Kilgori said that for Nigeria to achieve self-sufficiency in food production agriculture should be returned as the mainstay of the nation’s economy. He also stressed the need to provide soft loans to farmers as well as infrastructure, machinery and agricultural inputs.