By Jimoh Babatunde
As Nigeria is set to stop importation of rice from 2017, the federal government has revealed plans to adopt the Brazilian model in rice production and processing.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture , Arc. Sonny Echono, said for the country to balance the yield equation for rice with the actual supply gap of 1.5 million to 2 million MT that Nigeria needs to adopt Brazilian measures in rice production and processing.
Arc. Echono speaking during a Trade Mission visit by a delegation of Brazilian businessmen to his office in Abuja said Brazil is self sufficient in rice production and exports to over 65 countries.
Echono explained that the Nigeria Government is seriously interested in how to increase productivity and yield of smallholder farmers using the Brazilian co-operative model and technological advancements.
He said, “There is need for significant improvement on yields through high quality seed, good agricultural practices and a robust extension system; hence the need for collaboration with Brazil.”
The permanent secretary also revealed that Nigeria is particularly interested in Brazil’s agricultural equipment because of the similarities in the agro-ecological climates of both countries.
“Nigeria’s investment in agriculture goes far beyond equipment purchase and maintenance into value addition and processing to create jobs”, Echono added.
He therefore called upon the Nigeria Agribusiness Group to partner with their counterparts from Brazil to explore opportunities for economic cooperation, trade and investments in agriculture and agribusiness.
The Brazilian Trade Mission had earlier told the Permanent Secretary that the team was in Nigeria to engage the Nigerian business community and to introduce the Brazilian co-operative model which in 2014 made more than 1 billion USD and has been helping small holder farmers to export their products.
Brazilian Ambassador in Nigeria, Joao Andre Lima , explained that the Brazilian Rice Institute has developed technologies that have improved rice production adding that Brazil has achieved self-sufficiency in rice production and exports 20% of her rice to other countries.
The mission assured of its readiness to build technology for the peculiar need of Nigerian rice farmers and used the meeting to invite the Permanent Secretary and Directors of the ministry to an agribusiness fair in Brazil, scheduled for 9th – 13th March, 2016. According to the mission, over 74 countries took part in the fair in 2014.
Earlier in his remarks, the Nigerian Ambassador to Brazil, H. E Ambassador Adamu Emozozo, stated that because rice has become a staple food in Nigeria, it becomes very imperative for the country to do more research on rice to be able to feed itself and compete at the International Level.
Ambassador Emozozo said Brazil is one of the top five producers of agricultural equipment in the world, hence the need for Nigeria and Brazil to partner in agriculture to achieve self-sufficiency in food.