By Tunde Oguntola, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has disclosed that over 12.2 million farmers have joined the rice and wheat revolution, as the country moves close to achieving self-sufficiency in grains production.
The President also declared the current administration’s Anchors Borrowers’ Programme a huge success.
Speaking at the 25th edition of the Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA) Ceremony in Lagos on Wednesday the President, who was represented by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the success of the agriculture revolution has turned thousands of rice farmers into millionaires and drastically reduced rice import.
‘’Apart from the successes we have achieved in tackling insecurity and fighting corruption, perhaps our most remarkable progress has been in the area of agriculture. Quietly but steadily, our agriculture revolution is bearing fruits.
‘’According to the Rice Exporters of Thailand, rice imports from Thailand fell from 644,131 tons in Sept 2015 to 20,000 tons in Sept. 2017, representing a 95 per cent drop,’’ President Buhari said, noting that self-sufficiency in rice is so important because it is the most widely consumed staple in Nigeria, and also because Nigeria’s daily expenditure on rice for over three decades stood at $5 million a day.
He said Nigeria is also doing well in Millet, Sorghum and Maize cultivation, adding: ‘’We are now the second largest producer of sorghum after the US, the third in millet after India and our breweries are now enjoying local sourcing of those commodities. For maize, we are producing 10 million tons while we need about 13 million tons for both human and animal nutrition.’’
The President said Nigeria leads the world in the yam and cassava production and that efforts are being made to restore and improve on the country’s ranking in cocoa production, where it has fallen from 2nd to 7th position.
‘’We are also investing in a new line of tree crops targeting local and foreign end users and certain to earn foreign exchange. These are shea butter, palm trees, coconut, mangoes, bananas and plantains, kenaf and sisal hemp, castor and pineapple, among others. Overall, our ambition is that agriculture should rise from 25 per cent to 40 per cent of GDP so that we can banish poverty and overcome our economic anxiety,’’ he said.