29th December, 2011
The Federal Government has expanded the capacities of three rice mills in the country to 90,000 tonnes each to facilitate rice processing and ensure competitiveness.
The Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, disclosed this on Wednesday in Abuja in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
The rice mills are located in Ebonyi, Niger and Kebbi states.
Adesina said the Federal Government would accelerate rehabilitation work on the mills to enable them attain full capacity utilisation by February of 2012.
Rehabilitation of the mills, Adesina said, would be part of governmentâ€™s Agricultural Transformation Action Plan (ATAP) to ban rice importation and make the country self-sufficient in rice production by 2015.
According to the minister, the gesture is also aimed at attaining food security, improve the living conditions of local farmers and to generate more employment.
Adesina said that by April 2012, 14 additional rice mills with a total capacity of 440,000 tonnes, would be established under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) concession.
He said stakeholders in the agriculture sector had come to the conclusion that the PPP arrangement should be the driving force for agriculture to regain its status as the number one economic driver in Nigeria.
The minister said, â€œIf you look at other countries in the world, the private sector had always been in the driving seat in the development of agriculture.
â€œAll the government does is to facilitate and create the enabling environment, where banks will support private sector (practitioners) in agriculture and where markets will be opened and value added processes be put in place.â€
To ensure all year round production and to ensure constant supply of paddy rice to the mills, the minister said government would provide support for 450,000 rice farmers in 2012.
According to the minister, the farmers will be provided with all the needed inputs and irrigation facilities to boost all season rice farming.
To attain the objectives of governmentâ€™s agriculture transformation agenda, Adesina said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development would revive the moribund 40,000 tonnes capacity rice mill located in Omohu village in Anambra State.
Adesina said government had put in place measures to encourage domestic production of rice to substitute imported rice.
Some of the measures, he said, included raising the levy on brown rice from the current five per cent to 30 per cent while the levy for polished rice had been increased to 50 per cent.
â€œBy December 2012 tariffs, will be raised to 100 per cent,â€ he said.