President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that prices of food items, especially rice will reduce soon.
The president gave the assurance yesterday, during the official unveiling of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)/Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) Rice Paddy Pyramids in Abuja.
He urged Nigerians to exercise some patience, saying the growing food production in the country, especially expansion in rice farming would eventually bring down prices of food, making it more affordable for all.
The Governor of the CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, revealed that the country had been able to significantly reduce rice importation from Thailand by over 99.83 percent within the past seven years.
The president said: “Today rice production in Nigeria has increased to over 7.5 million metric tons annually. Prior to the introduction of APB, the average production in Nigeria between 1999 to 2015 was less than four metric tons annually.
President Buhari said the commissioning of the rice pyramids was an indication that the country was making steady and assured progress towards self-sufficiency in food production, adding: “It is my desired hope and expectation that other agricultural commodity associations that are yet to participate under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme will emulate the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria in supporting our administration’s drive for food self-sufficiency.’’
Emefiele stated that beyond increasing national output from about 5.4 million metric tons in 2015 to over nine million metric tons in 2021, there had also been significant improvement in the productivity per hectare of the smallholder farmer from about 2.4 metric tons per ha in 2015 to about 5 metric tons per ha in 2021.
He noted that these expansions have not only made Nigeria the largest rice producer in Africa, but had also unlocked enormous private sector investment in the rice value chain.
He said the number of Integrated Rice Mills grew astronomically from six in 2015 to over 50 in 2021 with many more in various stages of completion.
“COVID-19 has shown that we cannot rely on imports and hence we must chart our own path to attaining self-sufficiency in our basic needs as a nation. And this must become our preeminent preoccupation going forward,” Emefiele added.