What Nigeria must do to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production – Expert

The illicit business of smuggling to Nigeria remains a challenge to the country’s efforts at attaining self-sufficiency in the production of rice, a professor of agriculture, Babagan Gambo has said.

Mr. Gambo, the lead consultant on agricultural matters to Nigerian Governors’ Forum, said this last Monday, while delivering a paper on ‘Untangling the bottlenecks towards Nigeria’s Agricultural transformation’ at the national symposium on “Fixing the Nigerian Agricultural Value Chain” in Abuja.

The symposium on agriculture was organised by Premium Times, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, PTCIJ, and The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, NIRSAL.

Self-sufficiency in rice production, among other food items, is one of the ways the Buhari-led administration has tried to lessen pressure on foreign exchange, by reducing importation, creating jobs and spurring diversified growth.

An investigation of the government’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme by PREMIUM TIMES, revealed a revolutionary match towards self-sustenance in rice production in Nigeria – but the integrity of the programme, which started in Kebbi State, must be maintained.

According to Mr. Gambo, Nigeria can bridge the gap between rice production and its consumption in the country through three ways: planting of rice in both wet and dry seasons; giving more lands for the production of rice; and non-importation of rice into the country.

From the statistics he presented, the professor noted that virtually every state in Nigeria can produce rice.

Speaking further, he said food security means food availability, food affordability and food in balanced diet. He lamented that since 79 per cent of Nigerians live below two USD per day, it is difficult for Nigerians to be food secured.

He, however, emphasised that the variability in terms of soil and climate, culture, among others, remains the greatest strength of the country.

“The variability is our greatest strength, whatever can be grown anywhere in the world can be grown in Nigeria,” he said.

The Symposium also witnessed the paper presentation of Aliyu Abdulhameed, CEO NIRSAL, on the topic “Derisking the Agriculture Sector”.

In his speech, the publisher of PREMIUM TIMES, Dapo Olorunyomi, said that “it is no longer enough for journalists to keep day to day report of what the leaders do.”

“Journalists also have a role to play in proffering solutions to the numerous problems ravaging the country,” said Mr. Olorunyomi. “We need a new type of journalism which is solution based.”