Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday in Abuja met with members of the Presidential Task Force on Rice and Wheat Production to explore ways of boosting the production the commodities.
The meeting also reviewed factors mitigating against self-sufficiency in the cultivation of the two commodities.
The Task Force chaired by the Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu, was inaugurated last year June by the federal government to make Nigeria self sufficient in rice and wheat and step up current efforts to produce those commodities in the country.
Speaking to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting which lasted about five hours, Bagudu said the meeting reviewed the rice and wheat programme.
He said compared to last year where only five states went into wheat production, eleven states have joined this year.
“This is the meeting of Presidential Task Force on Rice and Wheat and we reviewed the wheat programme and what we can do more to support states in order to increase production of wheat to ensure that our farmers who have responded to the call are supported in terms of getting good price for their output in order to sustain their interests.
“We reviewed where we are with rice production, the Acting President noted with satisfaction all the efforts by different stakeholders to attain sufficiency in the shortest possible time.”
He said Osinbajo assured the meeting that the federal government would continue to support the drive towards self sufficiency in food security.
He also said the acting president told the meeting that government out of necessity would support the farmers, the millers and other stakeholders involved in the value change.
Asked to confirm that Nigeria was now the second largest producer of rice in the world, the Kebbi governor said he had no data to backup the claim but that the response had been good.
“I don’t have that data but I know that our farmers have responded and all parts of Nigeria, about 32 states have increased production,” he added.
On where Nigeria was in terms of wheat production currently, Bagudu said: “I think we have done very well, we have remarkable increase in the number of states that have produced wheat from the last season. Last season we had about five states but today we are hearing reports from about 11 states and the increase in output per state is quiet significant as well. So we believe that with sustained trajectory that we are seeing we will be able to achieve our self sufficiency,” he said.
Those in attendance were the state governors of Ebonyi, Dave Umahi, Kano, Abdullahi Ganduje, Kebbi, Abubakar Bagudu and Jigawa, Badaru Abubakar.
The Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Audu Ogbeh, his counterpart in Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun as well as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emiefele were also in attendance.
Other members of the Task Force are the President of Wheat Farmers Association and President of the Rice Farmers Association.