Chris Steven, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has declared the administration’s Anchors Borrowers’ Programme a huge success, saying 12.2 million farmers have joined the rice and wheat revolution while the country is moving close to self- sufficiency in major grains.
The President, who was represented by Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, spoke at the 25th Edition of the Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA) Ceremony in Lagos on Wednesday.
He said the success of the agriculture revolution has turned thousands of rice farmers into millionaires and drastically reduced rice import.
”Apart from the successes we have achieved in tackling insecurity and fighting corruption, perhaps our most remarkable progress has been in the area of agriculture. Quietly but steadily, our agriculture revolution is bearing fruits.
”According to the Rice Exporters of Thailand, rice imports from Thailand fell from 644,131 tons in Sept 2015 to 20,000 tons in Sept. 2017, representing a 95% drop,” President Buhari said, noting that self-sufficiency in rice is so important because it is the most widely consumed staple in Nigeria, and also because Nigeria’s daily expenditure on rice for over three decades stood at $5 million a day!
He said Nigeria is also doing well in Millet, Sorghum and Maize cultivation, adding: ”We are now the second largest producer of sorghum after the US, the third in millet after India and our breweries are now enjoying local sourcing of those commodities. For maize, we are producing 10 million tons while we need about 13 million tons for both human and animal nutrition.”
The President said Nigeria leads the world in the yam and cassava production and that efforts are being made to restore and improve on the country’s ranking in cocoa production, where it has fallen from 2nd to 7th position.
”We are also investing in a new line of tree crops targeting local and foreign end users and certain to earn foreign exchange. These are shea butter, palm trees, coconut, mangoes, bananas and plantains, kenaf and sisal hemp, castor and pineapple, among others. Overall, our ambition is that agriculture should rise from 25% to 40% of GDP so
that we can banish poverty and overcome our economic anxiety,” he said.
President Buhari hailed the NMMA, which he called the preeminent media excellence award, and said the Nigeria media has done well over the years hence it deserves to be celebrated.
He, however, urged the media not to allow those who brought Nigeria to a sorry pass to muddle the waters by creating their own narrative which is far from reality
”This is important because there seems to be a feeling of numbness among the citizens about the conduct of those whose actions brought us here. Suddenly, these same people are engaging in revisionist history and blaming those who are working themselves to the bone to correct the misdeeds of the past. They are blaming everyone but themselves for the mess they threw the country into,” the President said.
He said those who mismanaged the country have shown no contrition, no apologies, no shame, but instead have engaged in sheer bravado, unbridled arrogance and revisionism, adding: ”The media owes it a duty not to allow Nigerians to forget, to say ‘Never Again’ to those who view Nigeria as nothing but a cash cow to be milked to death.”