Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said the Federal Government’s efforts at increasing rice and fertiliser production would guarantee President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election in 2019.
The minister reeled out the achievements of the Buhari administration in agriculture, at a press conference in Lagos, at the weekend.
He said: “The agricultural revolution has taken millions of Nigerians out of poverty. In the words of rice processors, the rice revolution alone is enough to guarantee re-election for president Buhari; if he decides to run again. We appeal to Nigerians to complement the efforts of the government by consuming only locally-grown and processed rice.
“According to the Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), there are more than 11 million rice farmers in Nigeria, today, up from five million in 2015. RIPAN’s total investment in the economy is in excess of N300 billion.
“Upcoming investments will amount to N250 billion. The new investments will add 5,000 jobs and additional 1,775,000 metric tonnes of integrated rice milling capacity.
“It will save $300 million foreign exchange from import substitution through local processing. Nigeria’s rice import bill, hitherto at $1.65 billion annually, has dropped by over 90 per cent.
“In 2015, Nigeria produced 2.5 million metric tonnes of milled rice. By 2017, it rose to 4 million, leaving a gap of two million metric tonnes. Our target is to fill that gap by 2020. The investments have not stopped. Fifteen more mills are about to take off, including the Dangote Rice Mills, to be established in six states with a total capacity of about one million metric tonnes.
“RIPAN members presently employ 5,000 skilled Nigerians, five million farmers, over 500,000 input suppliers and hundreds of thousands of unskilled workers, including labourers.
“You can then do the math yourself, to see the total number of jobs that have been created by RIPAN alone. Remember that there are small scale rice millers all over the country who are not RIPAN members.”
On the federal government’s efforts at increasing fertiliser production, the minister said: “Fertiliser production in Nigeria today is a success story. Recall that president Buhari set up the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) in December 2016; to deliver commercially-significant quantities of affordable and high-quality fertiliser at the right time to the Nigerian farmer. The PFI has turned out to be a magic wand in fertiliser production.
“In 2017, PFI delivered 10 million 50 kilogramme bags of NPK 20:10:10 fertilizer at N5, 500, in time for the wet season. In 2018, PFI targets the delivery of 20 million 50 kilogramme bags (one million metric tonnes), double the figure for 2017.
“Before PFI, each imported fertiliser bag was subsidised to the tune of N6, 000 per bag. In 2017, PFI saved the government N60 billion in would-be subsidies. Eleven moribund fertiliser blending plants with a combined capacity of over two million metric tonnes have been revived. Twelve more are to be revived to bring to 23, the total number of plants that will partake in 2018 PFI. Over six million bags of fertiliser have been sold to farmers at N5, 500 per bag.”
“The country has never been closer to self-sufficiency in rice, a national staple, than now. Our target is to achieve self-sufficiency in our paddy production by 2020. This has been made possible by the purposeful leadership of president Muhammadu Buhari, who has consistently said this country must produce what it consumes.”
The president launched the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme on November 17, 2015. The programme aims to provide farm inputs, in cash and kind, to smallholder farmers to boost production of commodities, including rice, stabilise inputs supply to agro-processors and address the country’s negative balance of payments on food.