The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon. Mustapha Shehuri, yesterday launched the National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) II, to provide a direction for the development of the rice sub-sector.
The minister explained that the document represented a 10-year plan that would also help the government to achieve its goals of self-sufficiency in rice production, food and nutrition security, employment creation, and production of surplus for export.
Speaking at the official launch of the National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) II and the Competitive Africa Rice platform (CARP) SRP- Nigeria, Shehuri said the document was adopted at the 4th National Council of Agriculture (NCA) in 2021 by all the stakeholders with support from Competitive Africa Rice Platform CARP.
He said the federal government remained extremely committed to the promotion of the agricultural sector in order to realise its potential of achieving food and nutrition security for its teeming population.
The minister pointed out that the rice value chain had been identified as strategic to achieving these lofty objectives, adding that the NRDS I had been used to develop the Rice Transformation Agenda under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda and Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) which served as a catalyst for the commencement of the rice revolution in the country.
He said, “Its implementation began with the adoption of a value chain system as a holistic approach to transforming the rice sector in Nigeria. This has helped the government to provide enablers and support to rice production, processing, and marketing end to end.
“It encouraged a private sector-driven agriculture that started in 2011 as an adopted strategy of the federal government to reduce the huge import bill by accelerating paddy production, improve processing quality and promoting consumption of home-grown rice.”
As a result, Shehuri said national paddy production rose significantly towards rice self-sufficiency in 2020 while the NRD I was reviewed to give rise to the formulation of a new NRDS document in 2021.
He added, “This is the document that is being launched today… CARP formerly known as Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) is dedicated to the productivity and sustainability of the rice industry with two main objectives which are to ensure the competitiveness of Nigerian rice and the sustainability of the rice sector.
“The CARP (SRP)-Nigeria is a multi-stakeholder platform set up to advocate policies and drive transformational changes in standard practices in the rice sector. The CARP’s Board of Trustees (BoT) has been inaugurated by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and is domiciled in the ministry for effective coordination and operational management to achieve its lofty goal.”
The minister, however, appealed to all the stakeholders to implement the all-important document and CARP (SRP)-Nigeria for the benefit of the country.
While launching both documents, the minister said the federal government would welcome further partnership and solicited passionate commitment from all stakeholders during the implementation of the plan.
Shehuri said the previous document had achieved several benefits including the development of a National Farmers’ Database across the country; strengthening of seed development and production system; intensification of Research and Development (R&D) leading to the development of resilient Rice varieties for different ecologies; strengthening the seed companies for efficient seed production, strengthening of agricultural insurance by establishing the Nigerian Incentive-based Risk Sharing on Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) to entrench insurance services on agribusinesses; and championed the introduction of zero per cent tariff and duty on imported agricultural equipment among others.