At least six million Nigerians, mostly youths, are now venturing into rice production after the nation’s border was shut.
With the present figure, Nigeria could hit 18 million rice farmers in no time, if the present trend continues and the number of farmers involved in the venture before the border closure (12.2 million according to Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria) is added.
This was according to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this on Thursday in Kano, after a tour of major rice mills to assess the impact of the border closure.
The Minister, accompanied by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono; rice farmers and millers as well as officials of the Nigeria Customs Service, visited the Al-Hamsad Rice Mill, Kura Brothers Rice Mill, Tiamin Rice Ltd and Umza International Farms, all in Kano.
Mohammed noted that all the existing 34 rice mills in Nigeria are now producing at maximum capacity due to the border closure.
He stressed that Nigeria’s quest to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production will be achieved quickly with the border closure.
The Minister expressed optimism that self-sufficiency in rice production would also translate to more job opportunities for the teeming millions of unemployed youths.
According to him, while daily production has hit 150,000 bags, the cycle of rice cultivation has increased from twice a year to three times a year as a result of an increase in the rice production value chain.
He said, “Let’s start with rice farmers. Before the drill, which some people have referred to as border closure, there were 12.2 million rice farmers in Nigeria, according to RIFAN.
“The farmers were cultivating rice twice a year. Now, many rice farmers across the country have started three-times-a-year cultivation in order to meet the increasing demand. This is phenomenal.
“Not only that, at least six 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. In fact, young farmers are buying small rice mills and off-taking rice paddies from rice farms.”