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The desired shift from subsistence to commercial agriculture cannot be achieved by Nigeria, without conscientious efforts by all stakeholders in the entire production, processing and distribution process.

This was the submission of the CEO/Editor-in-Chief, Daily Trust, Mallam Mannir Dan-Ali, at the third Agric Conference & Exhibition, themed: Repositioning Rice, Sugar & Dairy Production For Optimal Yield, held at the Federal Palace Hotel, yesterday, in Lagos.

He said despite various intervention projects by government, especially under this administration, it is pretty obvious that government needs to do more in certain critical areas in the value chain.

“For instance, there is need for a lot more action from both government and the financial institutions to stimulate increased funding interventions for the agricultural sector, in order to reposition the sector and enable it deliver the desired value.

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“A report by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) has shown that the average yield for rice production in Nigeria remains at two tonnes per hectare, which is almost about half the average yield in most Asian countries. Put the above statistics side by side the fact that Nigeria is Africa’s leading consumer of rice and also one of the largest rice importer in the world, then you know that we need to take much more serious steps to develop the critical sector of our economy than we have done so far,” he said.

On his part, Chairman of the occasion, Mr. Emmanuel Ijewere, who is the Co-Chair, Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), to reposition the rice industry, there is need for research institutions to develop varieties of rice that will be known as Nigerian rice.

He noted that the agric system has almost collapsed and currently under Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and needs urgent attention to rescue it from fizzling out. “The border closure has put us in ICU, currently more people are eating locally produced rice and more farmers are cultivating rice…The country is in intensive care as a result of the border closure, it is we Nigerians that will make it to survive.

The Lead Speaker, Alhaji Sani Dangote, who is President, NABG, ascribed the abysmal performance of the sector to government’s policy summersault. He noted that in terms of boosting local production, there is no clear information on what farmers need to do and how they need to do it, adding that there is urgent need for all the players to always put government on its toes.

Represented by Dr. Daniel Manzo Maigari, Dangote said for the country to capture unexplored areas of the sector, there is need to establish online input distribution platform; seed production and processing unit with a franchise distribution model and digitalised extension services; machinery rental services scheme with online and offline booking platforms; data collection service scheme providing reliable data on production zones, SHFs profiles, milling units; branding and marketing advisory services; franchised online linkages platform; transport and storage service provision with warehouse receipt systems; commercial paddy production for large to medium scale millers and digital rice trading platform linking millers with end customers.”

He added that for the country to invest in competitiveness, it needs to bring knowledge and innovation into the rice value chain; standardise practices in the sector; develop protocols for rice farming; create an enterprise to enable private capital into the sector and need to review past agricultural policies to align them with the current realities and set goals and objectives.


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Mallam Mannir Dan-Ali
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