Chief Audu Ogbeh the agriculture minister, has revealed that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is already facilitating the procurement of additional 40 large-scale rice mills.
The minister, while speaking in Abuja on Thursday, November, 10 at a workshop titled: ‘Big Boost for Agro Diversification and Export’, said that the Integrated Rice Mills (IRMs) of the ministry had increased the rice milling capacity in the country. Reports has it that the minister said the Nigeria government’s new goal was to attain self-sufficiency in food production and even export 10 million metric tonnes of food to other ECOWAS countries and beyond by 2019.
He said that Nigerian’s food import bill has now declined from N1.1 trillion in 2009 to N684 billion in 2013.The minister said said:
“Nigeria has huge agricultural potentials with 11 million hectares of arable land but only cultivates 40 per cent; 263 billion cubic metres of water with two of the largest rivers in Africa. “We have a cheap labour force to support agriculture intensification. We grow our food, feed ourselves and create local and international markets for our farmers and also unlock our enormous potentials in agriculture. “We can achieve the economic diversification goal of government and surmount the present economic recession.”
The minister added:
“I hope with the help of the Pentair, Good Rain, Dayu irrigation, Zhong Zhou Poultry, Jinan and our local companies, we will diversify and get out of recession in no time.” The managing director of Eurobase Nigeria Limited, Don Ekesiobi, who organised the workshop, noted that his company and the ministry of Agriculture brought six world leading agro companies to Nigeria for partnership. “I hereby state that any state, local government, commercial and private agro company that adopts and partner with these corporations will be on their way out of recession within a short time.”
According to the minister, the procurement of additional 40 large-scale rice mills will help Nigeria to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production by 2018.