Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria spends a daunting N1 billion a year on rice imports, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development confirmed, earning its place as the second highest importer of rice in the world.
“By the time you go to sleep tonight, we would have spent one billion naira buying rice, importing rice. Don’t we have rice on this land?!” the minister, Dr. Akinwumi Adeshina demanded.
He made the revelation in Minna, the Niger State Capital, during a ministerial retreat for the Ministry of Agriculture.
While the grain is widely consumed by many homes in the oil-rich country, about 80 per cent of the consumed product is not produced locally.
In his presentation of the 2012 budget to the joint session of the National Assembly earlier this month, President Goodluck Jonathan revealed that his administration will be taking some strong measures to curb the importation of rice and other grain in an effort to kick start the nation’s sleeping agricultural department.
Dr. Adeshina explained that the transformation agenda of the Federal Government will be a mirage without an urgent and practical transformation of the country’s agricultural sector.
“This kind of expenditure pattern cannot be sustained by Nigerian,” the minister said adding that “we are eating beyond our means” and continuing in that manner will not empower job creation in the country.
The minister is leading the revolution to make Agriculture a top priority and ensure that the nation gets the maximum benefit for the government.