President Muhammadu Buhari has appreciated Nigerians for the effort they are putting in agriculture, thus improving the economy as the country diversifies form oil to other sectors.
Deputy Chairman of the National Food Security Council and Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu conveyed the President’s appreciation while briefing Journalists after Friday’s meeting of the Council, Presided by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Bagudu said the Council considered the devastating effects of recent flood on farmers, fishermen and other people involved in agricultural activities.
“The President hosted the meeting of the national Food Security Council meeting to consider the ability of the research institutes in Nigeria to contribute to agricultural programmes, our storage facilities and consider an agricultural intervention fund that will continuously support small scale farmers,” he said.
The Kebbi State Governor further said the Council also considered an appeal, made to President Buhari to consider a special intervention for food and livestock farmers as well as fishermen that were grossly affected by recent floods in some parts of the country.
He also said ahead of the yuletide and similar seasons, the President was also called upon to approve a N5 billion support that will boost the supply of rice in major markets, to beat down the retail price of the essential commodity.
“Another issue that was discussed was that last year the President approved N5 billion to make rice available in major markets during the festive season so equally this year a request has been made to the President to approve the same figure this year so that millers, distributors and rice farmers would be supported in order to ensure that Nigerian rice is made available in all markets to support the festive season in such a way that there wouldn’t be price escalation,” the Governor explained.
The Deputy Chairman of the National food Security Council debunked the claim made by the US department of agriculture that Nigeria was still importing rice.
“We drew the attention of the council to a report by the US department for agriculture which suggested that Nigeria has been importing rice or about to the tune of about three million tonnes. We informed the Council that contact has been made with the US agency to tell is the basis for the report because it’s not consistent with the report available to us.
“The only official importation in Nigeria is about 4,000 metric tonnes of rice. Secondly, the biggest exporter of rice, Thailand exported 1.1 million metric tonnes of rice to West Africa between January to October this year and India exported 402 million metric tonnes of rice to West Africa between January and the end of July this year. That is a total of 1.5 million metric tonnes. Even if all was smuggled into Nigeria, that was the total amount of importation one could attribute to Nigeria. So, the US authorities responding by saying that their assessment was based on satellite imaging of flooded areas and consideration that we are about to enter electioneering period and that demand for rice by politicians or for political purposes will increase. Thirdly, that most West African countries depend on Nigeria so because of the flooding, they concluded based on those assumptions that Nigeria will import more.
“Certainly, that is an erroneous report, even in spite of the flooding the upland rice production has been quite strong this year. Even though prices have increased in response to flooding, we still have adequate paddy rice in Nigeria,” he said.