Previous administration built 2 rice mills per year, I have built 8 - President Buhari

Previous administration built 2 rice mills per year, I have built 8 - President Buhari

- President Buhari said his administration was helping agriculture develop in the country

- According to him, eight rice mills have been built in two years by his government

- He noted that a lot of Nigerians were abandoning agriculture and called on them to embrace it

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that his administration has done well in the area of agriculture noting that eight rice mills have been built which is an average of four per annum.

The president made this comment when he spoke at a meeting with key stakeholders in the rice value chain at the presidential villa, Abuja.

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Buhari said previous administrations only built an average of two mills per year.

He said: “When we came in 2015, there were thirteen rice mills in Nigeria. Twelve of these were built between 2009 and 2015. This was an average of two mills per annum. But my team and I felt more could be done. And we put in place measures and policies to unlock the potential of this sector and thus, increase the rate of investments.

“You will all recall that in November 2015, I was in Birnin Kebbi to launch the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers program and also kick off the dry season rice farming. Since then, the vice president and I have commissioned a record number of agricultural projects and programs. From rice to wheat, to cashew, to animal feed, to fertiliser, to drinks processing and many more.

“And very soon, I will also be commissioning a sugar estate. These projects are all over the country and worth billions of Naira. Clearly, our policies are working.

“From your presentation today, you have shown that between 2016 and 2018, eight new rice mills have come on stream. This is equivalent to four new mills per annum. Our paddy production and productivity have also doubled compared to 2014 levels."

The president said this achievement confirms that when Nigerians are committed to executing a task, it gets done. He also noted sadly that a lot of Nigerians were abandoning agriculture.

He said: “Not too long ago, our nation was predominantly driven by the rural economy. Indeed, Nigeria’s backbone was built by the farmers. Somehow, we as a society abandoned the Agriculture sector of our economy. Agriculture became an afterthought and we forced our farmers into poverty.

“Thankfully, Nigerians have now woken up to the fact that it is an embarrassment for us, as a nation, to import most of what we eat, given the great natural gifts of our country. We have the fertile land, we have water and the manpower to feed ourselves. Therefore, we have no reason to import essential foodstuffs.”

“I am particularly proud of how the narrative has changed. Agriculture is now seen as a financially viable sector. Many Nigerians, especially the youth, are choosing agriculture, as a profession. We have former Governors, Ministers, legislators and major entrepreneurs moving into agriculture. Not as a hobby. But as a viable business that will generate income.

“Your commitment has guaranteed that the 11 million Nigerian farmers will remain employed. And I want to assure all of you that this Government will not let you down. We will also do our bit to ensure you are able to sell quality Nigerian rice at an affordable price.”

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Meanwhile, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) urged Audu Ogbeh, the minister of agriculture, to apologise to the people and resign after falsifying claims on Thailand shutting down its rice mills as a result of drop in importation of rice by Nigeria

PDP's national publicity, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement on Friday, March 9, said Ogbeh should ”immediately toe the path of honour and resign for portraying Nigeria as a lying nation.”

The minister had claimed that a Thailand diplomat told him that President Muhammadu Buhari’s policy of reducing importation of rice and encouraging local production led to the ”collapse of seven rice mills in Thailand.”

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