The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said
the ongoing border drill that has largely curbed foreign rice
smuggling into Nigeria has boosted rice production while fast-tracking
the country’s quest to achieve rice self-sufficiency
The Minister stated this at a press conference he addressed after
leading a media tour of integrated rice mills and rice clusters in
Kano on Thursday.
Quoting statistics from the Rice Millers Association, he said over
200,000 bags of rice were occupying spaces in the warehouses of
virtually every integrated rice miller before the border drill started
in August, while many small scale rice holders or rice clusters had to
abandon their small scale but valuable means of livelihood.
Alhaji Mohammed said farmers were even worst hit since the integrated
rice millers, who were the off-takers, were already struggling to save
their businesses by laying off staff and finding other means to pay
off their bank loans with mounting interest rates, hence were finding
it hard to buy paddies from rice farmers.
“But the story changed in August this year, when the border drill
drastically reduced smuggled rice, thus giving the entire rice
production value chain a new lease of life. Gentlemen, within one week
of the drill, every integrated rice miller exhausted the milled rice
in their warehouses, recalled the staff that were laid off and resumed
production. All the existing 34 rice mills that we have in the country
are now producing at maximum capacity, 24 hours a day,” he said.
The Minister said currently, the integrated mills produce about
150,000 bags of rice every day, translating to over 35 million bags
annually, adding that the 34 mills are expanding rapidly in order to
increase capacity and meet the rising demands, while the small scale
rice clusters in all parts of the country are now back on stream and
feeding their local communities,
He said Nigeria’s quest to achieve self sufficiency in rice production
will be quickened by the increasing activities in the rice production
value chain resulting from the border drill in four of the country’s
six geo-political zones.
”Achieving self sufficiency in rice production will also translate to
more jobs for millions of our people as well as cheaper and more
nutritious rice for all. I want to congratulate everyone in the value
chain for cashing in on the opportunities provided by the border
drill, which – like i said – has drastically reduced rice smuggling to
the country,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
He said the 12.2 million rice farmers in Nigeria, who were cultivating
rice twice a year, have now started three-times-a-year cultivation in
order to meet the increasing demand.
“This is phenomenal. Not only that, at least 6 million people, mostly
youths, are now venturing into rice production, meaning that we could
hit 18 million rice farmers in no time if the present trend continues.
This is a positive fallout of the border drill. Also, some farmers are
now going beyond rice farming and venturing into buying rice paddies
and even packaging and marketing,” the Minister said
Earlier, the Federal Government delegation, which include the Minister
of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, rice farmers
and millers as well as officials of the Nigeria Customs Service, had
visited the Al-Hamsad Rice Mill, Kura Brothers Rice Mill, Tiamin Rice
Ltd And Umza International Farms, all in Kano, to ascertain how they
have been grappling with the rising demand for rice in the country.
Alhaji Mohammed later led the delegation on a courtesy visit to the
Kano State Governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, at the Government
House, where he told the Governor that Kano was chosen for the tour
because if hosts 11 of the country’s integrated rice mills as well as
20 rice clusters.