From Udo Onyeka, Lagos:
Federal Government said it has introduced tree crops whose products are targeted at earning more foreign exchange for Nigeria.
Minister of information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced this at the recently held 25th Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA), at Muson Centre, Lagos.
Besides, Alhaji Mohammed said that the government’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has attracted over 12 million farmers and the country is moving close to self-sufficiency in major grains.
According to him, the success of the agriculture revolution has turned thousands of rice farmers into millionaires and drastically reduced rice import.
He noted that apart from the successes the administration has recorded
in addressing insecurity and the fight against corruption “perhaps our most remarkable progress has been in the area of agriculture. Quietly but steadily, our agriculture revolution is bearing fruits.”
He disclosed that information from those exporting rice from Thailand show that: “rice importation from Thailand fell from 644,131 tons in September 2015 to 20,000 tons in September 2017, representing a 95 per cent drop. Self-sufficiency in rice is so important because it is the most widely consumed staple in Nigeria, and also because Nigeria’s
daily expenditure on rice for over three decades stood at $5 million a day!”
He also scored the country well in the production of millet, sorghum and maize cultivation, saying, “Nigeria is now the second largest producer of sorghum after the U.S, the third in millet after India and our breweries are now enjoying local sourcing of those commodities.
“For maize, we are producing 10 million tons while we need about 13 million tons for both human and animal nutrition.’”
“‘We are also investing in a new line of tree crops targeting local and foreign end users and certain to earn foreign exchange. These are Shea butter, palm trees, coconut, mangoes, bananas and plantains, kenaf and sisal hemp, castor and pineapple, among others. Overall, our ambition is that agriculture should rise from 25 per cent to 40 per cent of GDP so that we can banish poverty and overcome our economic anxiety. ”He, however, hailed the NMMA, which he called the pre-eminent media excellence award, and said the Nigeria media has done well over the years hence it deserves to be celebrated.