WorldStage Newsonline– Nigeria has achieved 75 per cent self-sufficiency in rice production through sustained investment in the value chain, according to Dr Mohammad Abubakar, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Abubakar made this known at the Rice Value Chain Validation workshop tagged: “Strengthening the Rice Value Chain in Nigeria” on Thursday in Abuja.
Represented by Usman Bashir, Deputy Director, Rice Value Chain, Federal Department of Agriculture, he said rice value chain had been the focal point of the agricultural transformation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration through sustained investment and other development partners.
He said the ministry had developed and launched the National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) 11 from 2021 to 2026 in collaboration with partners to serve as a framework for the development of the rice sub-sector in the country.
According to him, the NRDS is a private sector driven initiative aimed at leveraging the linkages between the public and private sector to provide an impetus for the transformation of rice value chain through innovation and sustainable investment.
He said the measure was to achieve a competitive value chain capable of producing the rice commodity of high quality and affordable for Nigerian population and export.
Abubakar said the ministry had provided critical support to strengthen each segment of the commodity value chain through research and innovation by affiliated institutions.
According to him, the institutions have the mandate of the development of improved varieties and new farming technologies for rice crops among others.
Abubakar, however, said that in spite of the giant strides made by the country in the sub-sector, there were gaps that needed urgent attention by all stakeholders to achieve set objective of self-sufficiency.
“The gaps include lack of comprehensive data on all key indices and players in the sub-sector, provision of affordable mechanisation services for increased efficiency and productivity.
“Access to affordable and quality inputs such as fertiliser, seeds and pesticides, access to flexible financing among others.
“Tackling these challenges will require a concerted effort by all stakeholders in the rice value chain through constructive interaction,” he said.
The President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Alhaji Aminu Goronyo assured that the association would partner with financial sector to address all challenges bedeviling the industry.
Represented by Muhammad Alibaba, his Special Assistant, identified finance as key, adding that successes recorded in rice production were achieved through the CBN anchor borrower programme.
He, however, called for effective, sustained, and easily accessible financing in order to take advantage of all the challenges affecting business opportunities.