Nigeria is closer to attaining self-sufficiency in rice production owing to the border drill that has drastically reduced smuggling and catalysed rice production across the country, the Federal Government has said.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said this on Monday in Lagos while briefing newsmen on the major achievements of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari’s (retd.) regime for the outgoing year.
“We recently visited some of Nigeria’s 34 integrated rice mills as well as rice clusters in Kano. The rice mills are either operating at full capacity or have doubled their production.
“Before the drill, there were 12.2 million rice farmers in Nigeria, but now six million people, mostly youths, are venturing into rice production.
“Before the drill, farmers were cultivating rice twice a year, now that has increased to three times a year, and some rice farmers are now venturing beyond rice cultivation to milling, packaging, and marketing.
“Overall, the integrated mills currently produce 150,000 bags of rice daily and about 35 million bags per annum,’’ he said.
The minister added that the border drill had curbed the smuggling of other prohibited items into the country, leading to significant seizures with an estimated monetary value of over N3.5 billion.
He said the exercise had reduced the importation of arms, ammunition, and drugs.
Mohammed said because of the drill, terrorists and other criminals are finding it hard to procure arms and ammunition while criminal elements no longer make their way into the country through the land borders.
“This has resulted in reduced cases of insecurity, whether its kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery or other violent crimes,’’ he said.
The minister said smuggling of petroleum products out of Nigeria had been drastically curtailed and had led to a 30 per cent reduction in domestic fuel consumption.NAN