The Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) has affirmed the export of local rice in the near future as predicted by the Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono some weeks back.
The Deputy National President of RIFAN, Mr Segun Atho, drummed support for the minister’s prediction in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.
Atho reiterated the minister’s stand on local rice exportation saying it was workable, feasible and possible with the current growth witnessed in the sector.
“The prediction of the minister of Agriculture that we will begin the export of locally processed rice is very possible, workable and feasible.
“It is possible because Nigeria has about 95 million hectares of land suitable for agricultural practices, and about 10 million is suitable for rice cultivation.
“If a farmer can cultivate one hectare of rice each and harvest between three to four tones of paddy rice multiplied by the current number of farmers in the country, I think we are sufficiently blessed.
“The minister of Agriculture is in line with the goal of the current administration that we should be self-sufficient and achieve sustainability in agriculture so as to be able to export to other countries.
“On our part as local farmers, we are trying our possible best to meet up with the growing demand of local rice,” Atho said.
He also noted the possibility of rice export from the country harping on the favourable potential of the country.
“When we grow rice for the country, we also make sure we grow rice for export to other countries especially West Africa.
“Nigeria has huge potential for rice production so that is why we say the minister of Agriculture is not mincing words when he predicted the export of Nigerian rice soon.
“Nigeria is potentially blessed, we have a potential land and it is suitable for rice cultivation and in terms of rice exportation, we shall get there.
“If you go round the country you will see that so many local farmers have started cultivating and harvesting paddy rice.
“As an association, we are taking care of all rice farmers in the country that are involved in the Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP).
“The ABP has been working for us; it is only that it is cashless because we are not given cash to run it.
“The level we are today, I can tell you that we are getting there because with the programme we are succeeding as farmers,” he added.
NAN reports that in line with the diversification drive of the Federal Government and with the closure of the land borders, there is an increase in the production, processing, and consumption of local rice.
Rice as one of the most popular staples in Nigeria has a consumption rate of 32 kg per capita; in the past decade, consumption has increased by 4.7 per cent and reached 6.4 million tones in 2017.