By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, yesterday said that the national rice production capacity of Nigeria has reached on the average, seven million metric tonnes, being the lightest in the agricultural history of the country.
Briefing journalists at the All Progressives Congress (APC) Nation Secretariat in Abuja, Okechukwu, who is a chieftain of the party, said also that it averaged at 4.1mmt, 5.4mmt and 3.3 mmt during presidencies of Musa Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan and Olusegun Obasanjo respectively.
According to him, rice paddy production in Nigeria increased from 325,000 tonnes in 1969 to 5.1 million metric tonnes in 2019, growing at an average annual rate of 8.76 per cent, as the data show.
“The president of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Aminu Goronyo, attributed the increase seen in rice production to the Anchor Borrower’s Programme and ban on forex for food importation, coupled with land border closure.
“That alone is a sign, an indication and a true testimony that this administration has achieved near self sufficiency in rice production for Nigerians,” he quoted Aminu Goronyo to have said.
He said for the purpose of clarity, rice revolution agenda of the government, without prejudice to our oil and gas reserves, the innovation of Nigerian youths in the tech ecosystem, and our small and medium scale entrepreneurial skills, is the main beacon to actualisation of the nation’s giant status in Africa.
“As our subsistence farmers migrate to commercial farmers, we migrate from potential giant to substantive giant of Africa.
“Amongst others, with massive mobilization, Buhari Agrarian Revolution (#BUGREV) will balance our external trade deficit, assist in no small measure in offsetting our foreign loans and enhance our economic diplomacy. This was the stoic strength of our founding fathers, consequent upon are landmark achievements like University of Nigeria Nsukka, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.
“The truism is that in the five decades post 1970 Nigeria, almost two generations in sociological terms, no military Head of State or civilian President has deeply thought of pragmatically shifting our attention back to agriculture, mobilised men and material nor committed so much homogenous amount of money in the transformation and modernisation of agriculture in Nigeria than President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.
“Hence the hashtag – #BUGREV (Buhari’s Agrarian Revolution), the untold story of bottom-top model of revival of agriculture, back to land, redistribution of income and construction of egalitarian society seamlessly. The agrarian revolution is, in other words, the solution and indeed panacea to palpable discontent, despair, gross unemployment and gross inequality in the country.