By Favour Nnabugwu
The Special Adviser to the President on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, NEPAD and African Peer Review Mechanism, APRM, Ambassador Mrs. Fidelia Akuabata Njeze, says Nigeria loses N1billion daily to rice importation.
She also added that due to the importation of rice, Nigeria has been exporting jobs and financial resources meant for the transformation of the domestic rice sector in the country.
While commending the Competitive African Rice Initiative program CARI for organizing the event, she said the effort would compliment government efforts to end rice importation into the country.
The project is implemented by GIZ, Technoserve, the John Kufuor Foundation and Kilimo Trust and in joint partnership with FMARD, NEPAD, FAO and ECOWAS aimed at resolving the importation of rice into Nigeria and West African sub-region which is close to 50 percent of rice from foreign countries outside the shores of the African continent.
Head of Programs CARI, Stefan Kachelriess Matthess, said as parts of CARI implementation agenda to empower small scale rice farmers in Sub-Saharan African, CARI has contributed 3.3 million dollars to the production of rice in Nigeria, which is 40 percent of the implementation cost agreed with the private sector of Nigerian partner that will contribute the remaining 60 percent of the implementation cost. Mr. Stefan also explained that the CARI program is been implemented in three other
African countries; Ghana, Tanzania and Burkina Faso by GIZ, Technoserve, the John Kufuor Foundation and Kilimo Trust and in joint partnership with FMARD, NEPAD, FAO and ECOWAS which began 2013 and will run till 2017.
The idea is aimed at reaching 120,000 African rice producers in the four African countries involved.
Earlier, the Chairman of the occasion, Mr. Kingsley Olusola Olurinde noted that the major constraint in the production of rice in the country was low productivity and poor quality of milled rice as the demand for rice in Nigeria is about five million tones yearly, and the domestic production is less than three million tones which makes the importation of rice into the country more than two million tones.
He stated the need to improve the quality of locally made rice to internatioal standard , adding that the introduction of dry season production will see rice been produced twice in a year and the introduction of lowland and irrigated rice will see the production of rice increase to six tones/hectare as compared to upland rice which is two tones/hectare.