Stakeholders seek self-sufficiency in rice production
Apparently irked by the huge amount of money spent on importation of rice on a yearly basis, stakeholders in the agriculture sector have called for concerted actions to boost local capacity in rice production in order to reduce the importation of the product and boost foreign exchange reserve.
The stakeholders, who spoke at a three-day Lagos Rice Fair, held in Lagos at the weekend, outlined the huge opportunities that exist in the rice value chain.
Specifically, Senior Intervention Manager for the organizers of the fair – DFID funded project, Growth and Employment in States (GEMS4), Busuyi Okeowo, explained that there are growing opportunities in the Nigerian rice market, adding that sufficiency of the product would stimulate economic growth and boost competitiveness of locally produced rice. He highlighted opportunities in the industry to include wholesale and retail distribution; packaging of Nigerian rice into smaller units as well as trade financing from banks.
He pointed out that stimulation of rice market in Nigeria would result in the creation of more than 10,000 new jobs.
The Executive Director, Sterling Bank, Mrs Bukola Awosanya reiterated the bank’s commitment to the development of agriculture and SMEs in Nigeria.
She added that the bank would continue to provide access to finance for operators in the sector.
Earlier, the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, stated that the establishment of the Imota Rice Processing Mill in Ikorodu, which is one of Nigeria’s largest rice mill, is one of the initiatives of the state, aimed at advancing local production and processing of rice.
Ambode, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Dr. Olajide Basorun assured that state government will work with stakeholders and partners to curb the importation of rice, while creating improved linkages to boost rice value chain, adding that it would enhance increased production and returns to all stakeholders.
He added that that the programme was coming at the most auspicious time because stimulating effective demand is critical to increase local production and competitiveness of the Nigeria rice.