The official said Nigeria currently produces about 50 per cent of its rice needs.
The acting Director-General of the National Agricultural Seeds Council, Olusegun Olatokun, saidon Thursday that Nigeria had the capacity to begin rice exportation in 2014.
Mr. Olatokun told the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja that with the Federal Government’s plan to ban rice importation in 2014, the country had no choice but to take advantage of its potential in rice production in furtherance of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda.
According to him, once that is done, the country will become self-sufficient in rice production and meet all the local demand for rice requirement.
“The total consumption in Nigeria is in the region of about six million tonnes of paddy; what we are producing is in the region of 3.5 millon tonnes. What was left for us to meet up was about 2.5 million tones,” he said.
“We projected that this 2.5 million tonnes will be met within four years but within two years, we have met more than 80 per cent of what is required.
“Give us 2014, you will see Nigeria exporting rice. It is a good thing that they should ban it, if they don’t, the competition that will come may discourage the rice producers,” he added.
Mr. Olatokun also alleged that those behind the proposed ban on rice importation wee those involved in the importation business.
“There are people that are speaking politically; they know that if this thing (rice importation) is banned, their interest of bringing in the imported goods will be stopped,” he said.
“We are going to have enough, there will be no anybody going hungry. The only problem is how to make it available to everybody.
“The health benefit of our local rice is better than whatever they are bringing. What we need to do is to do more of network supply so that people can get it anywhere they want.”
The acting director-general said the ban on rice importation would not only encourage local farmers, it would boost the economy of the country and eradicate hunger and poverty. He said the government only needed to be firm in implementing the planned ban so that the sector would be more attractive to the unemployed youth.
Mr. Olatokun said because many countries were looking up to the Nigerian agriculture sector, the country should live up to the expectation.
Rice is Nigeria’s major staple food and self sufficiency in rice production is one of the cardinal programmes of the Agriculture Ministry under Akinwunmi Adesina.
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