The Buhari regime on Thursday inaugurated the National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS ll), to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production.
Also inaugurated was the Competitive African Rice Platform (CARP) – Nigeria, dedicated to the productivity and sustainability of the Rice industry.
CARP Nigeria is aimed to improve the competitiveness of locally grown rice through economic, social, environmental and policy avenues.
Speaking on the occasion, the Minister of State for Agriculture, Mustapha Shehuri, said the NRDS II document is a ten-year plan(2020-2030), which seeks to provide direction for the development of the rice subsector.
Mr Shehuri said NRDS II seeks to also achieve the government’s goals of self-sufficiency in rice production, food and nutrition security, employment creation and production of surplus for export.
He said the federal government was extremely committed to the promotion of the agricultural sector in order to realise its potential of achieving food and nutrition security for the country’s teeming population.
“The rice value chain has been identified as being strategic to achieving these lofty objectives. This underscores the importance of today’s event,” he said.
He recalled that NRDS I which was used to develop the Rice Transformation Agenda under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda and Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) served as a catalyst for the commencement of the rice revolution in the country.
“Its implementation began with the adoption of a Value Chain system as a holistic approach to transform the Rice sector in Nigeria.
“This has helped the government to provide enablers and support to rice production, processing and marketing end to end.
“It encouraged a private sector-driven agriculture that started in 2011 as an adopted strategy of the federal government to reduce the huge import bill by accelerating paddy production.
“As well as improve processing quality and promoting consumption of home grown rice,” he said.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, said CARP was set up to ensure the competitiveness of home grown rice and sustainability of Nigeria’s rice sector.
Mr Umakhihe was represented by Daniel Udo, Director, Department of Rural Development, Ministry of Agriculture.
In a goodwill message, the governor of Kebbi, Abubakar Bagudu, said the country had done well in rice production.
“We have done well, there is no doubt about it, in the rice sector, the increase in production, the mobilisation of private investment, coming together of financiers.
“Also, scientists and policy makers, under the able leadership of the federal ministry of agriculture, have produced monumental results,” he said.
He said the rice strategy document was in line with the federal government’s goals to achieve food sufficiency and boost trades.
In an address, the ECOWAS Rice Observatory (ERO) Officer, Dr Boladale Adebowale, said that rice had emerged strategically as a food security commodity.
She said that regional collaboration was essential for the growth of the rice sub sector.