Hit hard by Nigeria’s emerging self-sufficiency in rice production that has cost a whopping loss of over 620,000 metric tonnes in rice exports to Nigeria, Thai businessmen, who once spurned the federal government’s overtures to invest here, are now asking to set up milling outlets, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has disclosed in Abuja.
They are already discussing with officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, according to Mohammed at a meeting with journalists on Wednesday.
His words: “In fact, the Thailand Rice Exporters Association has recently
revealed that within a spate of just two years – From September 2015
to September 2017 – Nigeria’s rice importation dropped from 644,131
Metric Tonnes to just about 21,000MT.
“There is more good news to report: As a result of this Administration’s success in local production, some investors from
Thailand have shown interest in establishing rice milling plants in
Nigeria, and this is sure to further boost rice production in Nigeria.
“A few years ago, this would not have been possible since Nigeria was
not considered a top rice producing country. Today, Nigeria is one of
the largest producers of rice.”
The minister attributed the success in rice production to the giant stride made by the present administration in the
agriculture sector, specifically rice production:.
According to him, the country is inching
closer to achieving self-sufficiency in rice, due to the success recorded in the local production of rice.
He adds, “the improvement in rice production across the country
did not happen by accident. It is largely due to the Anchor Borrowers’
Programme, initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari, which supports
farmers through inputs distribution and loans to boost rice production.
“The increased rice production has, in turn, led to the establishment of
rice mills, including the 120,000MT WACOT Mill in Kebbi and the 1,000,
000MT Dangote Rice Mill.”
He put the country’s demand for rice at a little over six million metric tonnes, and was optimistic that next year the government’s target of seven million metric tonnes of rice production will be met
“There is also the fact that locally-produced rice is safer, tastier and healthier, in the words of the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe,” he added.
The minister was non-committal when asked on whether it was possible for the open market price of a bag of rice to fall drastically before Christmas as promised by rice farmers and government.
“Suffice it to say, however, that the increased production is bound to eventually bring down the price of rice and also bring succour to Nigerians,” he said earlier.