News Column

Jonathan Commissions Africa's Biggest Rice Mill in Nasarawa

July 15, 2014

Isiaka Wakili, Vincent A. Yusuf and Hir Joseph

President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday commissioned the 105,000 tonnes capacity rice mill at the Olam rice farm in Rukubi, Doma, Nasarawa State, saying the nation's food import bill was N684.7 billion as at last December 2013.

He said his administration's commitment is to reduce food import bill to the barest minimum.

"To demonstrate our commitment, I'm glad to report to Nigerians that from a total food import bill of N1.1trn ($6.9bn) as at 2009, we've reduced our food import bill to N684.7bn ($4.35bn) as at December 2013. Nigeria must be self-sufficient in food production. In this regard, our rice production programme has continued to receive very focussed attention. I launched the national dry season farming policy last year so that we can grow two or three cycles in the year, instead of only once each year. It's encouraging that our national paddy rice production has grown by an additional 7 million metric tonnes within three years. This is remarkable but we've to work harder still", he said.

He said over the past three years, Nigerian farmers had produced over 17 million metric tons of food, adding that "Steadily on this path, we expect to surpass our 2015 target of 20 million metric tons of food, by the end of this year. Now with better policy articulation and enhanced technology, our farmers, small and large, are all being touched by the new drive for food production across the country".

According to the president, Nigeria cannot justify the huge amount of rice imported each year when she has the potential to produce it.

"If we like to eat rice, then we must have to produce more. That is why we have placed total self-sufficiency in rice production as a priority for our country", he added.

The president said the private sector is key to his administration's transformation agenda and agriculture and rice production cannot be an exception.

"I am pleased with the strong private sector response to our rice policy. Recently the number of integrated rice mills has grown from just one functional, three years ago, to 18, today. These mills are producing high quality local rice that meets international standards, and competes well with imported rice. And don't forget, Nigerian rice is tastier and healthier than imported rice, because our local rice is fresh from the farm. Let me add that I am also speaking as a proud consumer of our Nigerian rice", he said.

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Source: AllAfrica

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