Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Chief Audu Ogbeh, yesterday said Nigeria now producing 90 per cent of the rice it consumed locally.
Ogbeh made this known at the 2019 Annual Research Review and Planning meeting held at the newly commissioned Balarabe Tanimu Conference Hall at the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria, Kaduna State.
The theme of the meeting is: “Harnessing the Potential of Agricultural Export in Nigeria: The Role of Key Stakeholders”.
Ogbeh, who was represented by the Director of Extension Services in the ministry, Dr Karima Babangida, said the support of the present administration had triggered a visible shift “to eating what we grow rather than eating imported food’’.
He said: “One very good example that we see today is the locally home grown Nigerian rice, hitherto, Nigeria has been a major and largest importer of rice from Thailand and this implies largest importer in the world.
“But today, we have been able to achieve a paradigm shift in the right direction and we are now producing 90 per cent of the rice we eat in the country, I think we should appreciate our farmers here.
“Nigeria does not only have the capacity to feed itself , it also becomes a major actor in agricultural exports to other African countries, Europe and American countries, including the Far East, especially China.”
According to him, the same thing is happening in other sectors of the agric economy, with collective efforts of stakeholders, Nigeria will have a favourable balance of trade in food items.
Ogbeh stressed the need for all stakeholders, researchers, extension service providers, farmers groups, policy makers, development partners, input suppliers, agro-based NGOs to synergise to continue to harness the enormous potential in the country.
The minister called for improved crop varieties, both arable and tree crops, livestock and fisheries, adding that it was the only way to improve comparative and competitive advantages and become self-sufficient in food and agricultural production.
Earlier, the Chairman of the occasion, who is also the Vice-Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Prof. Ibrahim Garba observed that the future of Nigerian economy depended on agriculture.
Garba, who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academics, Prof. Ezra Bako-Amans said the Nigerian agricultural export potentials were enormous.
“Nigeria has all it takes to lead the African trains-border trades in food and fibre. It can cut its global share too in a number of crops it has comparative advantages in their production.
“The world’s cotton economy for instance, is about 1 trillion dollars. Needless to say is that cotton used to be one of the most important fibre crops in Nigeria, but down the line, we lost relevance on this crop.
“With the current renewed focus on agriculture, this glory can be reclaimed and Nigeria can have her fair share in the global cotton industry,” he said.
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