The illicit business of smuggling to Nigeria remains a challenge to the country’s efforts at attaining self-sufficiency in the production of rice, a professor of agriculture, Abba Gambo has said.
Mr. Gambo, the lead consultant on agricultural matters to Nigerian Governors’ Forum, said this on Monday, while delivering a paper at the – Untangling the bottlenecks towards Nigeria’s Agricultural transformation – at the national symposium on “Fixing the Nigerian Agricultural Value Chain” in Abuja.
The symposium on agriculture was organized by Premium Times, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) and The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).
Self-sufficiency in the production, among other food items, is one of the ways the Buhari-led administration has chalked out to lessen pressure on foreign exchange, by reducing importation, create jobs and spur diversified growth.
An investigation of the government’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme by PREMIUM TIMES, revealed a revolutionary match towards self-sustenance in rice production in Nigeria – but the integrity of the programme, which started in Kebbi State, must be maintained.
According to Mr. Gambo, Nigeria can bridge the gap between rice production and its consumption in the country through three ways: planting of rice in both wet and dry seasons; giving more lands for the production of rice; and non importation of rice into the country.
From the statistics he presented, the Professor noted that virtually every state in Nigeria can produce rice.
Speaking further, he said food security means food availability, food affordability and food in balanced diet. He lamented that since 79% of Nigerians live below two USD per day, it is difficult for Nigerians to be food secured.
However, one thing he emphasized was that the variability in terms of soil and climate, culture, among others, remains the greatest strength of the country.
“The variability is our greatest strength, whatever can be grown anywhere in the world can be grown in Nigeria,” he said.
The Symposium also witnessed the paper presentation of Aliyu Abdulhameed, CEO NIRSAL, on the topic “Derisking the Agriculture Sector”.
In the address given by one of the organisers, Dapo Olorunyomi of Premium Times and Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism said that “it is no longer enough for journalists to keep day to day report of what the leaders do.”
“Journalists also have a role to play in proffering solutions to the numerous problems ravaging the country,: said Mr. Olorunyomi. “The next three days shall witness the training of journalists on how to give better reports on areas in the agricultural sector.”
He continued: “We need a new crop of journalism which is solution based…. Today is to look at the policy framework in agriculture and why contribution of agriculture to the country’s GDP has witnessed a backdrop…”
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