The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, on Wednesday in Osogbo, Osun State capital, said the Federal Government has concluded plans to stop importation of rice into the country by December, 2017.
Ogbeh, who made this disclosure when he paid a courtesy call on the Osun State governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola also hinted that the Federal Government was ready to partner with Osun State government in the current process of massive food production as part of the measure to tackle economic recession.
He lamented that it was unfortunate that Nigeria was still spending billions of dollars on food importation, thereby calling for maximum collaboration and partnership between and among the various authorities to revamp agriculture.
Ogbeh maintained that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture had been restructured to meet the nation’s needs on food production so as to bring an end to all forms of food importation, adding that his visit was aimed at solidifying the existing relationship between the Osun State Government and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture on the need to achieve a better agricultural productivity.
According to him, “By December this year, we will stop importation of rice into the country. It is a pity that as a nation we spend about five million dollars on the importation of rice on a daily basis. We have no choice in this country now but to get back to go back to farm and begin to cultivate it so as to be able to free ourselves and the land from poverty because oil and gas can no longer do it.
“Our dreams of big foreign exchange earnings must stop and it is a pity that all our revenue is being spent to service debts. In Osun, there is a lot of potentialities through various crops. Just two crops alone are enough for Osun to make over three billion dollars in a month.
“We have to find extraordinary means to make agriculture work in this country because by 2050 Nigeria’s population would have risen to about 450 million and we have to quickly begin to look for means of being capable to feed ourselves by then,” he remarked.
Ogbeh continued, “If care is not taken, it will be very difficult to finance the debt which the nation owed all in the name of food importation. We have to put a stop to this. We have to rededicate ourselves and look inward in order to chart a new course for our nation. The only feasible alternative we have to cushion the adverse effect of the present economy is for all to go back to farm.
In his remarks, Aregbesola, said there was no aspect of agriculture that his government had not touched, stressing that the present economy has left Nigerians with options of either to develop or destroy, thus calling for massive participation in agriculture.
The governor stated, “An alternative to oil is a quest of all nations. A time is coming when oil will no longer serve the mono-economic that it serves now, thus, Nigeria must come to that grim reality that in 25 years to come, there will not be revenue from oil.”