Abuja – President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday directed that local foods, especially local rice and cassava bread be served at all official functions of government.

The President, who gave the directive in his Democracy Day national broadcast said that it was part of government’s commitment to driving the agricultural transformation agenda.

“We must use our population to create markets for what we produce. We must grow local, buy local and eat local.

“In the State House, I am faithfully keeping to my promise of eating cassava bread and local rice.

“Our agricultural transformation agenda is directed at promoting local production, substituting for imported foods, and adding value to our locally produced crops,’’ he said.

The President said that the goal of the government was to add 20 million metric tonnes of food to domestic food supply by 2015 and create 3.5 million jobs.

He said that the administration would aggressively pursue the agricultural transformation agenda by making agriculture a business that could generate wealth and create jobs for millions of youths.

In attaining government’s policy of ensuring rice self-sufficiency by 2015, Jonathan said that 20 rice mills had been established across the nation with private sector participation.

He disclosed that for the first time, Nigeria would be exporting 1 million metric tonnes of dried cassava chips to China.

Jonathan said that the exportation would earn the country 136 million dollars in foreign exchange.

He said that the country had also successfully started the commercial use of feed grade cassava grits, produced locally for use in our poultry industry.

Similarly, the President said that the nation had recorded remarkable achievements in Mines and Steel Development.

“A total of 2,476 active mineral titles were issued compared to 666 titles issued out in the previous year, thereby reducing significantly illegal mining activities.

“About 350,000 additional jobs were created, arising from the activities of newly registered operators.

“We have initiated a programme to support private steel production outfits.

“This has resulted in an increase in production figures for steel and other metals to over 1 million tonnes,’’ he said.

The President said that his administration was committed to ensuring that every Nigerian child had an opportunity to receive quality education and acquire useful skills.

He said that the government had commenced the reform of the education sector from basic to tertiary level.

Jonathan said that his administration launched the Almajiri Education Programme to reduce the 9.5 million out-of school children within the year.

He said that the government established nine new Federal Universities and licensed nine new private universities  within one year bringing the total number of universities in the country to 124. (NAN)

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