President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday declared that importation of food into Nigeria was an embarrassment to the country
He, however, expressed delight that Nigerians have now woken up to the fact.
The president spoke on Tuesday during a meeting in Abuja with key stakeholders in the Rice Value Chain.
Buhari said: “Our vision, as a Government, has always been to promote and support programs that will bring investments to these rural areas.
“Not too long ago, our nation was predominantly driven by the rural economy. Indeed, Nigeria’s backbone was built by the farmers.
“Somehow, we as a society abandoned the Agriculture sector of our economy. Agriculture became an afterthought and we forced our farmers into poverty.
“Thankfully, Nigerians have now woken up to the fact that it is an embarrassment for us, as a nation, to import most of what we eat, given the great natural gifts of our country.
“We have the fertile land, we have water and the manpower to feed ourselves. Therefore, we have no reason to import essential foodstuffs.
“When we came in 2015, there were thirteen rice mills in Nigeria. Twelve of these were built between 2009 and 2015. This was an average of two mills per annum.
“But my team and I felt more could be done. And we put in place measures and policies to unlock the potential of this sector and thus, increase the rate of investments.
“You will all recall that in November 2015, I was in Birnin Kebbi to launch the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers program and also kick off the dry season rice farming. Since then, the Vice President and I have commissioned a record number of agricultural projects and programs. From rice, to wheat, to cashew, to animal feed, to fertiliser, to drinks processing and many more.
“And very soon, I will also be commissioning a sugar estate. These projects are all over the country and worth billions of Naira. Clearly, our policies are working.
“From your presentation today, you have shown that between 2016 and 2018, eight new rice mills have come on stream. This is equivalent to four new mills per annum. Our paddy production and productivity has also doubled compared to 2014 levels.
“I am particularly proud of how the narrative has changed. Agriculture is now seen as a financially viable sector. Many Nigerians, especially the youth, are choosing agriculture, as a profession.
“I will be inaugurating a National Food Security Council that I will personally Chair. The council will include Governors, Ministers, Security Agencies and key stakeholders across the entire agricultural segments of farming, fisheries and livestock management.
“I want to assure all Nigerians that this Administration is committed to Nigeria feeding itself. And from what I have heard today, this can happen in not too distant future.”