Akin Akande, Abuja
Minister of State for Federal Capital Territory, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, on Tuesday assured that the federal government and FCT Administration were committed to ensuring that Nigeria became self-sufficient in rice production by 2015.
The Minister, who stated this in Abuja during a meeting with the Managing Director of Rice Africa, a Pan-African organization, Dr. Edwin Idu, said agriculture was one of the pillars of the transformation agenda of the Federal Government.
She said, “The federal government through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is making appreciable progress to ensure that the nation is self-sufficient in rice production by 2015. It has revolutionised the agriculture sector with the development of a new policy aimed at making agriculture commercial.
“The Government has introduced the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) aimed at revamping the agriculture sector, ensuring food security, diversifying the economy, and enhancing foreign exchange earnings.
“Under ATA, key initiatives such as the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS) have been introduced to support smallholder farmers in the agriculture value chain. The ultimate goal is to ensure that agriculture is practiced as lucrative commercial enterprise that is not only sustainable but also attractive to our youths and young people.”
Akinjide disclosed that the FCT had been allocated two rice mills by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, which will be deployed in Abaji and Kwali Area Councils.
“The Federal Government in collaboration with State Governments has initiated a Rice Mills Programme and is procuring rice mills for distribution to the States of the Federation and FCT. The FCT Administration is supporting the government’s initiative and will ensure adequate infrastructure for the programme,” she added.
Earlier in his address, the Managing Director of Rice Africa solicited the support of the administration for the second international conference on rice for food market and development slated for March 6 to 8, 2013.
Idu explained that the international conference was an annual event for developing rice promoters’ capacities in Africa.
“We are expecting over 600 participants from Japan and other Asian countries, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana and other African countries. The conference is aimed at encouraging new ideas and innovative approaches relevant to delivery of rice value chain.
“The conference will also discuss rice service delivery research and development strategies that meet the changing needs of smallholder rice farmers under a range of rice sector development scenarios,” said Idu.