In line with the need to create jobs and improve the living standards of the people in Anambra and the region as a whole, the Federal Government has stated that it will revitalize rice farms in Anambra state and other regions, so as to boost rice production.
This move was revealed by Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri, the Minister of State, Agriculture and Rural Development during the assessment of Federal Government Rice Farms/Mills in Omor and Umerum in Anambra State.
Based on the importance of rice as a staple in the country, Hon. Shehuri disclosed that the Federal Government is working towards achieving self-sufficiency in rice production; as evident in the policies of the government in achieving food and nutrition security, import substitution and promotion of inclusive economic growth across all sectors of the economy.
In terms of the interventions the Federal Government has put in place to develop the rice sector, the Minister cited some of them to include the provision of farm inputs such as agrochemicals, organic fertilizers, knapsack sprayers, planting & harvesting equipment such as reapers, mini combine harvesters, threshers at a subsidized rate in order to increase productivity.
As a result of this intervention, not only has there been an increase in the quantity of rice produced annually; there has also been improvement in the quality of Nigeria milled rice to international standard which was made possible through the provision of modern rice milling machines to small/medium scale processors.
However, Nigeria’s rice consumption still holds higher than production, but government interventions through myriads of policies have increased rice production from 4.8 million metric tons of milled rice in 2015 to over 6 million metric tons by 2019 with a huge reduction in the nation’s deficit.
Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri explicated that production is expected to increase as the government continues to revitalize rice farmers. In his words, ”the Ministry has established 23 Paddy Aggregation Centers nationwide to aggregate and store paddy. The centres were given to members of the Paddy Dealers Association of Nigeria (PRIDAN) under the public-private partnership arrangement”.
In the same vein, there will be the dissemination of modern rice production and processing technologies, through capacity building of farmers and processors directly and also in conjunction with the international donor agencies such as Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), German International Cooperation (GIZ), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Competitive Africa Rice Initiative (CARI), AfricaRice.
He restated that the Ministry is currently responding to the trials of food availability posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting smallholder farmers nationwide with various inputs including certified seeds of improved varieties of food crops such as rice, maize, sorghum, wheat, orange-flesh sweet potato, groundnut cowpea, soybean, yam, as well as cash crops like cashew, cocoa, sesame, oil palm, gum Arabic. Others include herbicides, pesticides and agricultural machinery such as rice reapers, transplanters, power tillers motorized sprayers and processing equipment.
These interventions are expected to assuage the consequence of the pandemic on farmers and ensure that they keep producing food for the country.