By Tanko Mohammed
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed says, with over 34 integrated rice mills and clusters, Nigeria currently produces 150,000 bags of rice daily and about 35 million bags per annum.
The Minister disclosed this on Friday in Abuja at a media briefing to mark the first anniversary of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term administration.
He said rice cultivation has increased from two to three times a year, while rice farmers are now venturing beyond rice cultivation to milling, packaging and marketing.
Mohammed said that the integrated rice mills and the rice clusters across the country had created millions of direct and indirect job and conserved huge amount in foreign exchange, that hitherto went into rice importation.
He attributed the feat recorded in food sufficiency to the border drill declared by President Muhammadu Buhari that boosted production of products especially local rice, tomatoes, pepper and poultry.
“Today, Nigeria is fast attaining self sufficiency in rice production, as the border drill has drastically reduced rice smuggling into the country and catalyzed rice production by farmers across the country.
The minister said that, besides putting Nigeria on the path to food sufficiency, the border drill stem the flow of illicit arms into the country and improve national
He said the border drill has also led to significant seizures with estimated monetary value of close to N10 billion, reduced local fuel consumption by 30 per cent and reduced the importation of arms, munitions and drugs.
Mohammed explained that the drill had made it more difficult for terrorists and other criminals to procure arms and ammunition while criminal elements no longer make their way into the country through the land borders.
“The implication is that we have witnessed a reduction in cases of insecurity – kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery or other violent crimes.
“Talking about security, you are all aware of the unprecedented successes being recorded every day by our gallant troops against the insurgents in the North-east.
“We must continue to support our troops as they clear the remnants of the insurgents,” he said.
It would be recalled that the border drill, code-named EXERCISE SWIFT RESPONSE, is being coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser.
It involves the Nigerian Customs Service and Nigerian Immigration Service, working in collaboration with the armed forces, the Police and other security and intelligence agencies.