By GABRIEL EWEPU
THE Federal Government said it is ready to produce 2.6 million metric tons of paddy rice in 2013 dry season farming following the success it recorded in the wet season rice cultivation and production.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, during a courtesy call by commercial farmers from Zamfara State. Akinwumi acknowledged the farmers for their productivity and keying into the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, ATA, in the agricultural sector.
He said the transformation recorded in Zamfara State agricultural sector had made it possible for government to record a great leap after 28 years of down trend of agricultural activities in the sector, adding that agriculture has become a serious business in the state.
Adesina said, “Last year when President Goodluck Jonathan approved that we do dry season rice farming and production, it was the first time in the country the federal government took a policy decision to produce rice in the dry season.
“As we are going into this dry season, our expectation is that we will produce 1.6 million metric tons of paddy rice in this dry season. Already in this wet season that just ended, our estimation is 9, 000 metric tons in the main season and we are going to do 1.6 metric tons in the dry season. If you add both together, you will get 2.6 million metric tons of paddy rice by the end of the season.
“That means that we will produce the equivalent of 80 percent of what our needs are and if we can mill it in industrial scale quality, that will be 1.7 million metric tons of milled rice, and the total amount we are importing is 2.1 million metric tons of rice.
“People want us to continue to import rice. So when they see us producing rice, they are not happy because they want to bring in rice from Thailand, and that will not be our portion.”
The minister noted the federal government is seriously working hard to get a lot more of integrated rice mills into this country, saying that he will be leading a delegation to China with Rice Processors and Millers Association of Nigeria as part of delegation.
“We have decided that we are going to adjust our tariff system, duties and levies to cut off those who are trying to kill us with smuggling through Benin Republic. And we are also going to have rice aggregation centres; all of them will be equipped to clean, grade and guarantee a price for the rice and it will be sold to the millers. That already, I have asked USAID to lead that effort and they are designing it,” Adesina stated.