President Muhammadu Buhari says 12 million Nigerians have ventured into rice production in the last two years.
The President, who was represented by Audu Ogbeh, the minister for agriculture, made this known while speaking at the 4th Nigeria Rice Investment Forum in Abuja on Wednesday.
“The impact of our interventions in the rice sector has resulted into job creation, increase in wealth while reducing migration from rural to urban areas,” he said.
“As of July this year, the number of farmers has increased by 12 million. The Rice Farmers Association (RIFAN) has five million members. The number of people working in the rice mills, small or big is over 1.7 million.
“These include harvesters, loaders, off-loaders, transporters, distributors and markets. Unemployment is one of our biggest challenges in the country.
“We want to make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice production and the fact that we are currently the largest producer of rice in Africa, followed by Mali is good news.
“We have cut down rice importation by 90 per cent in the last three years and our milled rice is available in every store and supermarket in the country.”
In his keynote address, the Agric minister said plans were underway to privatise the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), adding that 40% of the shares would go to farmers.
Ogbeh said that this would address the challenges faced by farmers through accessing loan.
According to Ogbeh, the country has ordered 10 more mills in a bid to boosting rice production.