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FG Targets 17 Million Rice Farmers This Year

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bags of rice

The number of rice farmers in Nigeria is currently being increased by five million people in order to enhance rice cultivation across the country, the Federal Government has announced.

It said although rice farmers in Nigeria increased from five million to 12 million in the past two years, it was important to attract more people into the business so as to attain sufficiency in rice production.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this during a tour of some rice farms, stated that the government had commenced the cultivation of rice on additional 200,000 hectares of land in different states across the country.

He stated that 25 farmers would cultivate the crop on each hectare, adding that a total of five million farmers would be needed to work on the 200,000 hectares of farmland.

Mohammed further explained that the initiative had commenced in Kano, where 31,000 farmers had been engaged by the Central Bank of Nigeria through the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme.

He said, “We’ve grown the number of rice farmers from five million two years ago to over 12 million today. And there is a pilot scheme going on this season again with 200,000 hectares for the cultivation of rice. Now, each hectare employs 25 people; so that will have another five million people that will be added to the rice revolution.

“We want to make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice production and the fact that we are now growing the number of our farmers and we are reducing importation means that we are gradually getting to our target of self-sufficiency in food production.

“The cultivation of rice on 200,000 hectares has been flagged off and right now, about 31,000 farmers are being empowered by the CBN under this initiative in Kano this season.”

Mohammed stated that aside from Kebbi State, one of the most popular states involved the project, 31 other states were already planting rice in commercial quantity.

“There are 32 states producing rice in Nigeria and the same model is being used, which is the CBN Anchor Borrowers programme. This programme provides the farmers with seedlings, farm inputs, extension and advisory services, among others. And we can see the result of this programme,” he said.

The minister reiterated that Thailand had commenced moves to establish rice mills in Nigeria, encouraged by the increasing number of farmers and states involved in rice production in the country.

He said the Federal Government had won its fight against rice importation, especially from Thailand, as Nigeria had reduced its importation of rice by over 90 per cent.

“As we speak today, Thailand rice growers are making passionate appeal to the Federal Government. What they are doing now is that they want to set up rice mills in Nigeria, which means we have won,” Mohammed stated.

When asked again to explain why Thailand rice producers were pushing to set up mills in Nigeria, Mohammed said, “Thailand wants to set up several rice mills in Nigeria because we have stopped importing from them.”

He stated that Nigeria was able to cut down on the importation of rice from Thailand from 644,000 metric tonnes two years ago to a little over 20,000MT currently.

Mohammed particularly lauded the Kebbi State Government as he noted that the state was pushing the country’s rice revolution to greater heights.

Speaking alongside the information minister, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Kebbi State, Mohammed Dandiga, said over 200,000 farmers were involved in the cultivation of rice across the 16 local government areas in the state.

He said Kebbi had attained self-sufficiency in rice production and was already supplying the commodity in large quantity to other states of the federation.

Dandiga noted that between December 2015 and March 2018, the volume of rice from Kebbi State has grown from 2.5 metric tonnes per hectare to 11 metric tonnes per hectare.

He said, “For us, this is something very important, considering the impact which it has on wealth creation for these farmers, particularly since the past two years. We are working hard to increase the participation of others who are interested in agriculture because we now have off-takers.

“Nigerian rice is now the preferred choice, unlike what it used to be in the past and this is because we now have standard rice mills in Kebbi and some other parts of the country.”

The President, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Aminu Goronyo, recently stated that Nigerians consumed about 7.9 million tonnes of rice in 2017, with the country’s local farmers producing 5.8 million tonnes last year.

Out of this local production, Kebbi State accounted for about one million tonnes last year.

The state government recently stated that with greater investment, especially from the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme and better access to farm inputs, Kebbi planned to raise its rice production to 2.5 million metric tonnes in 2018. Rice is grown mainly in 16, out of the 21 local government areas in Kebbi State.

In August 2017, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo inaugurated a N10bn rice mill in Argungu, Kebbi State, with a milling capacity of 500,000 tonnes.

The Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Bagudu, recently announced that the 200,000 farmers in his state were growing rice on over 400,000 hectares.

He said, “It is heart-warming for us to know that we are able to create wealth for rice farmers and that as a result of the production of rice in Kebbi, Nigeria has been able to reduce its importation of rice by over 90 per cent.

“This is good news and it shows that a lot of people not just in Kebbi State are now producing rice and very soon, we will start exporting the commodity. In Kebbi, there are farmers who are under the Central Bank of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers programme.

“We also have those who work for private companies. A large number of farmers numbering about 200,000 are into rice production in our state and they now cultivate on not less than 400,000 hectares of land across the state.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Economy

FG Launches New N25bn Youth Fund to Address Some of the Concerns Raised by #EndSARS Protesters

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Zainab Ahmed

FG Introduces N25 Billion Youth Fund

The Federal Government has introduced a new N25 billion youth fund to address some of the issues raised by the Nigerian youths who took to the street to demand good governance, among others.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this at a stakeholder meeting held with the Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, in Kaduna.

Ahmed said the fund would be increased from N25 billion to N75 billion within three years to ensure new job creation for the youths.

The meeting was constituted as part of the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari to ministers and governors to dialogue with stakeholders on some of the concerns raised by #EndSARS protesters.

The finance minister said the aim was to support the Nigerian youths to actualise their innovative and entrepreneurial minds in business and general development of the nation.

On her part, Balarabe said the essence of the meeting was to brainstorm on how to tackle security challenges faced during the #EndSARS protests.

Dr Mohammad Abubakar, the Minister of Environment, who was also at the meeting, reiterated Federal Government’s commitment to people-friendly policies and reforms.

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Economy

Kwara to Support Looted Businesses With N500 Million

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Kwara State to Fund Looted Businesses With N500 Million

Kwara State has joined the list of states supporting businesses that were looted and vandalised by hoodlums masquerading as #EndSARS protesters.

Mr. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, the Governor of Kwara State, during a visit to the Kwara Mall and Agro Mall on Saturday said the state will support affected businesses with N500 million, adding that the funding is to reduce the negative impact of the looting on the state economy.

On Sunday, in a statement issued by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye, the Governor said the vandalism and looting may bring several businesses to their knees and lead to massive job loss with an increase in poverty rate.

He said, in order to avoid this, “We are setting up a N500 million fund for those that were affected to access.”

“The application form is live and active on the state government’s website and can now be filled by interested parties. We are going to get them back as soon as possible,” he assured.

The governor, who described the situation as a mindless looting of people’s businesses, said there can be no justification for such criminal behavour in our society and commiserated with affected owners.

Speaking on accusation of hoarding of palliatives, the Governor said the palliatives were donated by Private sector led CACOVID to specific vulnerable households and were being distributed gradually across the state.

What happened was bareface stealing and some people are playing politics with it. This is not the time to play politics. It is a time for all hands to be on deck. It is not just Kwara they wanted to burn down. They wanted to burn the whole country down. I urge all of us to stand up and resist that,” he said.

“We engaged the #EndSARS youth in Kwara and it worked out for us. They were not violent. They had a five-point agenda which the federal government has agreed to and has started implementing. In Kwara State, we have also set up a judicial panel of inquiry to look into the allegation of Police abuse. I also visited Police barracks to see how we can improve the welfare of the Police in the state.

“While the hoodlums were looting (on Friday), I was holding a meeting with executives and members of the National Association of Kwara State Students and National Association of Nigeria Students, Kwara axis. It shows students and youths were not part of the looting. Those involved were just hoodlums and thieves,” he said.

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Economy

IMF to Review Nigeria’s Growth Forecast Amid Destruction of Businesses, Properties

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IMF Says it May Review Nigeria’s Growth  Amid Recent Development in the Country

Following the destruction of businesses and properties that trailed the #EndSARS protest, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said it may review the nation’s growth forecast in view of the new development in the country.

Abebe Selassie, the Director, African Department, International Monetary Fund, made the statement while responding to questions during a virtual IMF press conference on the economic outlook of Sub-Saharan Africa on Thursday.

According to him, the protest is difficult given that Lagos is a very important economic hub and contributes to the overall Nigeria activities.

Selassie said, “On the growth projections in Nigeria, I mean, these protests happened of course, after we had closed, after the period where the data we looked at in making the growth projections for this economic outlook.

“And much will depend really on how these protests evolve.

“Lagos of course, is a very important economic hub and contributes quite a bit of economic activity to overall Nigeria activities.

“So, if these persist and are showing significant effects on economic data, we will internalise them in due course.”

He further explained that the nation’s economy had been a difficult one in the last four years ever since oil prices plunged in 2015-16.

He said, “I think this is exactly why we have been on the record in Nigeria about how really critical it is to get all of the policy induced barriers out of the way to facilitate stronger economic growth.

“For the government to do more to raise revenues through the area of non-oil resources to be able to invest in health education which would, you know, allow people to be more successful at getting jobs but also improve the economy’s potential.

“So, I think that development agenda that Nigeria has, I think, has to be tackled with gusto and vigor so that the millions of jobs that the country needs can be created.”

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